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11k Dental Patients In Sydney At Risk For HIV, Hepatitis

11k Dental Patients In Sydney At Risk For HIV, Hepatitis
Sydney Harbor MickiTakesPictures/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0


11k Dental Patients In Sydney At Risk For HIV, Hepatitis

Around 11,000 patients of four dental clinics in Sydney ran the risk of getting HIV and hepatitis virus after NSW health authorities found they breached the required infection control requirements.

A report by ABC News says the four practices are located in the city, Surry Hills, Bondi Junction and Campsie in Sydney’s south-west. Two were identified as the Gentle Dentist located at Campsie and Sussex Street in the Sydney CBD. The other two were at Surry Hills and Bondi Junction. The latter are run by a certain Dr Robert Starkenburg. The Gentle Dentist is owned by dentist Samson Chan.

Twelve dentists from both business establishments have been suspended from practicing and are now being investigated.

Dr Shane Fryer of the Dental Council of NSW said they have conducted a series of audits on the four clinics and found problems with the cleaning, sterilization and storage of instruments. “It was not being done in compliance with the guidelines of the dental board of Australia,” he said.

NSW Health has started contacting the people who went to the four practices to have their dental routines, according to Fairfax Media. But foremost concern is being given on patients who had invasive procedures over the past 10 years at those clinics. They are the ones most at risk of getting infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.

“We are hopeful that there will be no transmissions but there will be a risk,” Jeremy McAnulty, NSW Health director of health protection, said.

He likewise advised concerned patients to visit their GP and take a test for HIV, Hepatitis A, B and C as a precaution. The Australian Dental Association NSW told patients to call the helpline 1800 610 344 so they can be immediately attended to.

Starkenburg said he cannot imagine wanting to infect his patients, but admitted he had been lazy updating his clinics to conform to the latest protocols and regulations.

“In the last eight years, they have upgraded the protocols a lot,” he said. “I was a little lax on getting the latest protocols … [but] I have [since then] taken a couple of courses and taken steps to rectify the problem.”

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