Specialist clinics to assess children affected by faulty dental equipment

Specialist Clinics have been established in South Auckland to screen children who may have been exposed to unsterilised water during treatment at the Pukekohe Intermediate Dental Clinic.

A public health notice issued by the Auckland Regional Dental Service (ARDS) and Counties Manukau Health (CMH) says the discovery of malfunctioning equipment at the clinic means there is a “very small chance that children who had particular procedures” may have been exposed to water possibly containing blood or saliva from other children.

Specialist public health nurses from Counties Manukau Health (CMH) will be contacting families of children who attended the clinic between 13 September 2016 until it closed on 23 January 2017 to schedule screening.

CMH says children who had a procedure that involved compressed air, a drill, extraction or suction, will be offered testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. However, it says infectious disease specialists believe “the risk of cross-infection is very low as it is extremely rare for New Zealand children to have any of these conditions.”

Chief Medical Officer for Counties Manukau Health, Dr Johnson says, “A number of children especially pre-schoolers, will have only had a visual examination and because they have not come into contact with the problematic equipment, may not need blood tests. Some children may also need catch-up immunisations against Hepatitis B."

ARDS and CMH engineers are investigating how the problem could have occurred including involving a specialist maintenance company and the Unites States manufacturers of the equipment.

The discovery sparked a review of all Auckland Regional Dental Service dental clinics in the Auckland area and no other equipment issues have been found, besides those in Pukekohe.

Dr Johnson says, “The problem occurred due to equipment assembly and is not related to the clinical practice of the dental staff at the clinic or the high quality of care given to children across Auckland.”

ARDS and CMH say they understand this incident will be distressing for all families involved and have encouraged anyone with concerns to contact Healthline on 0800 611 116 or visit their GP.