MORE than 560 dental patients at one surgery have been told to have HIV tests because equipment was not cleaned properly.
They received letters saying they were at risk after a hygienist failed to sterilise a scaler.
Dentality Hoddesdon took three months to send letters to patients urging them to take an HIV test after equipment was not sterilised
But it took three months for health officials to act after being informed by the Dentality Hoddesdon practice.
One patient said: “You get a letter telling you to get an HIV test and it’s terrifying. They can say the risk is small all they want — but the truth is that they don’t actually know.
The ultrasonic scaler was cleaned only twice a day, when it should have been sterilised after each use
“The fact it took them three months to warn everyone is disgusting. How many more people could have been infected in that time?”
The ultrasonic scaler was cleaned only twice a day, when it should have been sterilised after each use.
The blunder came to light in January when other staff at the practice in Hoddesdon, Herts, realised the scaler was not being put in the steriliser as often as it should.
The self-employed hygienist, from London, is no longer used by the practice but can carry on working with monitoring.
She is not thought to have had any infection but it had not been revealed whether any patients she treated did.
However, health officials say there is a chance of the 563 patients involved being infected by tainted blood.
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Dr Jorg Hoffmann, of Public Health England East, said: “The risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV is extremely low and testing is being offered as a precautionary measure.”
Dr Vishaal Shah, from Dentality Hoddesdon, insisted: “We have always put patients first.”
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