Patients of Essential Dental for Life in Smithfield urged to get tested after sterilisation failures

Public health officials are contacting patients of Essential Dental for Life who’ve possibly been exposed to a range of blood-borne viruses.

Key points:

  • The clinic is called Essential Dental for Life and is located at Campus Shopping Village in Smithfield
  • Problems with infection control were identified, including failures in sterilisation procedures
  • 550 patients are being contacted
  • The patients were treated at the clinic between March 2018 and June 24, 2019
  • The clinic has ceased practising 

Dr Don Mackie, Executive Director of Medical Services at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, said the alert was raised by a patient, who lodged a complaint with the Health Ombudsman.

“It’s really just standard infection control, particularly around the auto-claving and sterilising of instruments and there are standards processes and we identified that these were not being done in the standard, acceptable way,” he said.

The patients identified as being at risk are being offered free tests for blood-borne infections including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

However Dr Richard Gair, the Director of Tropical Public Health Services said the likelihood of contracting such infections is considered low.

“There would only be any risk of transmission if one of the patients actually had the disease and then the instruments were used between that patient and another patient without sterilisation," he said.

"The prevalence of those diseases in the population is fairly low and so overall we calculate that the risk is very low."

Dr Gair said dental clinics are not audited independently and it’s up to each practice to follow their infection control plans.

“Under the Public Health Act there is a requirement to have these plans but it’s the responsibility of the practice to ensure the plan is followed,” he said.

The clinic won’t be allowed to resume operating until an audit is conducted to assess its infection control procedures.

More information: Call 13HEALTH (13 432 584)