According to an ABC report, it is possible that up to 11,251 patients of a small number of dental practices in Sydney would have been shocked upon receiving a letter urging them to get a blood test for HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C. The letters were sent after Dental Council of NSW and NSW Health investigated there are 11,251 patients who had an invasive procedure at The Gentle Dentists’ surgeries in Campsie and the Sydney Central Business District as may have exposed to potentially contaminated instruments over the course of the last 11 years.
A second dentist with practices in Bondi Junction and Surry Hills also had the potential for patients being exposed to blood-borne diseases after an infection control breach dating back to 1990.
Australian Dental Association president, Dr Rick Olive, said that if some tests come back positive for HIV and hepatitis, it’s much more likely that the infection was picked up from another source or already present. He says that as Australia has the highest standards of infection control in the world, the dentists might not be to blame for patients who test positive.
Dental Board of Australia and Dental Council of NSW have written a letter for practitioners to remind them of their infection control obligations under the National Law. The letter emphasized the need for registered dental practitioners to comply with infection control standards and to update their knowledge. On the patient’s side, a fact sheet also provided to guide patients on what questions to ask to make sure they are receiving safe care from their dental practitioner.
The Board developed guidelines on infection control which aimed to prevent or minimise the risk of the spread of infectious diseases in the dental setting. The guidelines serve as guidance and apply to all dentists and dental practitioners. You can download the Board’s Dental Guidelines on Infection Control PDF document from this link.
In another line of defence in infection control, dental practitioners are required to update their knowledge and education in this area to main their registration. Click here for the continuing professional development registration standard for dental practitioners.
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