Fears of contaminated equipment use – HIV tests offered to dental patients.
HODDESDON, UK: Hepatitis & HIV tests have been offered to more than 500 patients at a Hoddesdon dental practice, over concerns that they could have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis B or C because of the use of improperly cleaned dental equipment.
563 patients, who had undergone the procedure of ultrasonic dental scaling at the Dentality@Hoddesdon practice could have been exposed to HIV or Hepatitis B or C because a dental hygienist reportedly failed to sterilise the ultrasonic scaler after each and every use. The dental practice said that an independently contracted hygienist, Ekta Parikh, was dismissed after an investigation.
Public Health England (PHE), in a letter to the patients of this clinic, said that concerns had been raised about “an individual hygienist who no longer works at the practice” because the dental instruments used by this individual may have not been sterilized while being used to treat these patients. In order to help these patients, who wish to seek further information and book a blood test, PHE has set up a dedicated phone line.
In his statement, principal dentist at Dentality@Hoddesdon Dr Vishaal Shah said “As soon as we became aware of behaviour from a hygienist that did not meet the rigorous standards we expect from our entire team, we immediately launched a full investigation, and escalated the matter to all key authorities.”
“We understand anyone receiving these letters will have concerns and while there is an extremely low risk of exposure, all these patients are being offered detailed information, and a dedicated number to call to book an appointment for blood testing as a precaution and get further advice,” he added.
“Testing is being offered as a precautionary measure,” said Dr Jorg Hoffmann, Deputy Director for Health Protection at PHE East of England, backing Shah’s assertion that the risk of exposure to any of these blood-borne viruses was slight. “We know patients will be anxious about this situation and they will be supported by the NHS and PHE throughout,” he added.
“Effective treatments are available for all blood-borne viruses, which is why it was important to identify anyone who may have been put at risk of infection so testing and treatment can be offered,” Hoffmann continued.