Patients Of Sydney Dental Clinic At Risk Of HIV & Hepatitis
Up to 10,000 patients in Sydney are being advised to get a blood test to check for HIV and hepatitis after they were potentially exposed to the infections at a dental clinic.
Dr James Pok-Yan Ng, the dentist in charge of the practice in Haberfield, was suspended last month for breaching standard infection controls.
A patient complaint made towards the end of June prompted an investigation by the Dental Council of NSW and NSW Health. The investigation uncovered issues with staff training, waste disposal and the cleaning, sterilisation and storage of instruments.
NSW Health said that it is possible that the issues with health and safety could have been present or a large number of years. “Precautionary testing for hepatitis B, C and HIV is recommended for anyone who attended the clinic over the part 35 years, especially those who had invasive procedures,” said Dr Zeina Najjar, the Acting Director of Sydney Local Health District’s Public Health Unit.
“This would have involved a needle or other instrument piercing the skin, gums or tooth root, or where bleeding may have occurred, but we recommend any patient of this practice see their GP.”
However The Dental Council has said that checking for the infections is merely a precaution as the risk of infection is low and there have been no reported cases of transmission at this point.
“There certainly is risk but I would emphasise, that it’s a low risk,” said Dr Shane Fryer, President of the Dental Council of NSW.
The Haberfield clinic is located on Ramsay St but is now permanently closed after Dr Ng retired after his suspension.
In 2015, serious health breaches were found at several dentists across Sydney and these led to similar health warnings. No one was found to be infected in these cases.
This latest breach has prompted the Council to carry out another audit of dental practitioners following one that was completed in 2016. Spot checks are also being considered to strengthen the infection control framework.
Any patients who may have visited the Haberfield clinic and are seeking advice can contact a special hotline on 1800 610 344.