As a successful DC, you treat your patients with care and respect.
Your job is to not only relieve their pain, but also to keep them as pain-free as possible. Judging by the number of patients in your practice, it is probably safe to say that you are doing an excellent job of it. In return, your patients come back to you time and time again, as well as refer you to their friends and family members. Of course, you treat these new patients with the same level of care and respect as you do your existing patients.
However, there may be one area of your practice that is sorely neglected – your equipment. Think about it for a moment. According to Chiropractic Economic’s 18th Annual Salary & Expense Survey, DCs saw an average of 113 patients a week in 2015.1 That works out to slightly more than 5,800 patients each year. Considering that you are likely to use multiple pieces of equipment to treat just one patient, such as a chiropractic table and an adjusting instrument, your equipment gets quite a workout in any given week. If you want your equipment to hold up to all this use, here are some tips to help your equipment keep up with your patient load.
Cleaning up after yourself
It’s pretty much common knowledge among DCs that both the table surface and the hands (even if only performing an instrument adjustment) must be thoroughly cleaned between treating each and every patient, in order to avoid any possibility of contamination. Obviously, this will include replacing the paper covering both the table and the face rest, along with using disinfectant, after each treatment session.
Surprisingly, there is no standardized protocol specifically for chiropractic table and hand sanitization, despite the fact that you learned to do this in chiropractic school.2 A 2009 article published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine looked a variety of scholarly articles and best-practice guidelines for sanitizing the hands and table in chiropractic care. Due to the unique treatment practices of chiropractic, in which there is a great deal of skin to skin contact with patients, and skin to chiropractic table contact, other environmental best-practice guidelines are insufficient.2 In combining the findings from a number of sources, the authors were able to construct a proposed protocol for sanitizing tables and hands between treatment of patients.2
A well-oiled machine
Your chiropractic table is like a car. It is absolutely vital to your practice and requires regular maintenance in order to operate at peak performance. Fortunately, unlike a car, there are a number of relatively easy things you can do to extend the life of your table for as long as possible.
- Check for any bolts or screws that have worked their way loose and tighten them up
- Apply lubricant to keep all hinges and other moving parts of the table working smoothly
- Check to see if it is time to replace any worn table padding
- Replace worn nuts, hinges, or screws that have become stripped
- Check any fasteners and levers to make sure they don’t stick
Instrumental to Your Practice
If you use an adjusting instrument, it will also require careful cleaning and maintenance. It is vital to sanitize the silicone rubber tips of the adjusting instrument between uses on each patient. However, be aware that, over time, the sanitizing product may dry out the silicone rubber, causing it to become worn.3 Fortunately, replacement tips are relatively inexpensive, and almost all manufacturers will sell just the tips. It is a good idea to have a few extra on hand, just in case.
Additionally, your adjusting instrument may also begin to stick over time. Follow any manufacturer guidelines on how to lubricate the adjusting instrument. If you have an instrument that uses a computer interface, any cables connecting the instrument to the computer should be checked.
It is not uncommon for connectors to become loose over time, most often at the point where the cable meets the USB port that you will plug into the computer. Do not store the cable in such a way as to bend it at this particular spot, as that will reduce the lifetime of the cable. Just as with the silicone tips of the instrument, it is a good idea to have an extra cable available as a backup.
You expect a great deal out of your equipment. Maintaining your table and adjusting instrument with the same consideration and care as you show your patients will allow you to focus on caring for your patients.
- Feeney, C. 2015. 18th Annual Salary & Expense Survey. Chiropractic Economics. Accessed 3/23/2016.
- Evans, M. W., Ramcharan, M., Floyd, R., et al. (2009). A proposed protocol for hand and table sanitizing in chiropractic clinics and education institutions. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 8(1), 38–47. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2008.09.003
Beychok, T. 2015. Repairing your adjusting instruments. Chiropractic Economics. Accessed 3/23/2016.