Beds, Herts & Bucks

HIV fear over 'dirty' dental equipment

Dentist at work Image copyright PA
Image caption It is feared 563 patients were treated using unclean equipment

Hundreds of dental patients have been offered blood tests over fears they could have been exposed to HIV or Hepatitis B or C.

Dirty equipment may have been used to treat 563 patients of a former hygienist at Dentality@Hoddesdon.

Public Health England (PHE) said it was investigating "potential breaches of infection control procedures".

The practice said an independently contracted hygienist had been dismissed following an investigation.

Letters have been sent to all the Hertfordshire practice's patients who are understood to have received dental ultrasonic scaling from the self-employed hygienist, Ekta Parikh.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The hygienist was practising at a Hoddesdon dental surgery

Principal dentist Dr Vishaal Shah said: "As soon as we became aware of behaviour from a hygienist that did not meet the rigorous standards we expect from our entire team, we immediately launched a full investigation, and escalated the matter to all key authorities.

"We understand anyone receiving these letters will have concerns and while there is an extremely low risk of exposure, all these patients are being offered detailed information, and a dedicated number to call to book an appointment for blood testing as a precaution and get further advice."

A PHE statement said equipment used by Ms Parikh "was potentially not cleaned adequately" but the risk to patients was "extremely low".

Dr Jorg Hoffmann added: "Testing is being offered as a precautionary measure. We know patients will be anxious about this situation and they will be supported by the NHS and PHE throughout.

"Effective treatments are available for all blood-borne viruses, which is why it was important to identify anyone who may have been put at risk of infection so testing and treatment can be offered."

One patient told the BBC she was "horrified and astounded" after she received a letter notifying her of the situation.

"It was very worrying. I didn't know whether they'd had people come back with positive results already."

She said after speaking to the practice owner she was grateful he had reported the matter to the dental authorities.

In February the General Dental Council ruled Ms Parikh was still allowed to practice, but imposed conditions for the next 18 months while it carried out its investigation into the hygiene breach.

21 May 2019: The headline of this article was changed to make clear that this issue had nothing to do with the dental practice called "Hoddesdon Dental Surgery".

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