Thousands of Sydney dental patients may have been exposed to hepatitis B, C, and HIV after control breaches went undetected for more than three decades.
Anyone treated at James Pok-Yan Ng’s Haberfield clinic on Ramsay Street over the past 35 years should visit a GP for precautionary blood tests, NSW Health said on Wednesday.
The NSW Dental Council believes up to 10,000 people could be affected.
The council inspected the inner-west clinic and found multiple infection control breaches.
Dr Pok-Yan Ng has been suspended.
The Health Care Complaints Commission alerted the Dental Council to possible poor hygiene practices, sparking the investigation.
Acting director of Sydney Local Health District’s public health unit, Zeina Najjar, said the risk of likely infection was low.
All patients should have precautionary testing, especially those who had invasive procedures.
“This would have involved a needle or other instrument piercing the skin, gums or tooth root, or where bleeding may have occurred, but we recommend any patient of this practice sees their GP,” Dr Najjar said in a statement on Wednesday.
As yet, no patients have been found to have a blood-borne infection related to the practice.
Records show Dr Pok-Yan Ng has been registered as a dentist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency since 1980.
NSW Dental Council president Shane Fryer said inspections found cleaning and sterilisation practices at the clinic breached the Dental Board of Australia’s guidelines.
“The council carries out inspections of dental practices when a complaint is made, which raises a possible concern about compliance without infection control guidelines,” Dr Fryer said.
“Overwhelmingly, the majority of dental practitioners comply with infection control guidelines, procedures and obligations but if anyone has concerns, we urge you to contact the HCCC or the Dental Council.”
The Australian Dental Association NSW reassured the public the risk of contracting blood-borne infections at the dentist was low.
“Cases such as this are rare,” ADA NSW president Neil Peppitt said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our 4600 members in NSW and the ACT perform millions of procedures every year, and the overall standard of care is outstanding.”
The guidelines are stringent, he said, and ADA NSW takes infection control serious.
“ADA NSW is committed to the highest standards of patient care.
“We work to ensure dentists meet required standards and adhere to all relevant professional guidelines.”
NSW Health has set up an information line for Haberfield patients on 1800 610 344.