| 30.07,19. 05:56 PM |
HIV and hepatitis C risk to patients as Cairns dental clinic closed by health authorities
Photo: Patients were exposed to a low risk of several diseases, health officials say. (ABC News: Marian Faa)
Health authorities are urging more than 500 patients of a dental clinic in Far North Queensland to be tested for HIV and hepatitis.
The Essential Dental for Life clinic at Smithfield in Cairns has been temporarily closed as its infection control practices from March 2018 are investigated.
The clinic has about 550 people on its books.
Don Mackie from the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service said patients had been exposed to a low risk of several diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C.
"It's about the cleaning and sterilisation of instruments between one patient and the next," Dr Mackie said.
"There are standard processes and we are led to find that these were not being done in the standard and acceptable way."
Dr Mackie said it had "no evidence that anyone has gotten any infections because of this".
"But we're going through the screening process really out of an abundance of caution, to make sure people are identified and given very effective treatments for all of those conditions, which can often go on for a while undiagnosed without proper screening.
"It's really just standard infection control — particularly around the autoclaving and sterilising of instruments."
Practice 'very cooperative'
Dr Mackie said there was "a very remote possibility" of someone getting HIV
"It's … really comes down to the use of the autoclave and all of those other processes," he said.
"That raises the very low probability that some patients may be at risk of blood-borne infections."
Dr Mackie said a free screening clinic would be established to help patients.
"It's taken us quite a bit of time to actually establish the risk that's presented and … to work through the list of patients," he said.
"Now I've got to say, the practice has been very cooperative in helping us with this."
The ABC has contacted the owner of the clinic, Ken Hossen, for comment.
The clinic's website said Dr Hossen had provided dental treatment at Smithfield since 1993.