For immediate release: Friday, June 8, 2018
Contact: Kate Willson, email@example.com, 503-410-4524
County reaches out to Southeast Dental Clinic patients regarding possible exposure
At Multnomah County, the safety of our patients is our most important concern. On June 5, a Health Department manager running an internal infection control check discovered a missing step in sterilization documentation for instruments used on patients at the Southeast Health Center dental clinic.
As a result, the County cannot be sure that up to 18 instrument packets that went through the sterilization process on the evening of May 10 were fully sterilized. Our current practice has many checks to ensure instruments are sterilized effectively to ensure patient safety. We have reviewed the situation carefully with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which confirmed that the risk of disease transmission to patients is very low. We believe that it is best to act with an abundance of caution, which is why we are notifying patients, informing the public, and offering testing.
The Multnomah County Health Department is reaching out to all dental patients who visited the Southeast dental clinic between May 11 and May 24 who may have been exposed to hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. Up to 18 individuals may have been exposed out of 524 individuals treated at Southeast Dental Clinic during the period of time. Because there is no way to know for sure which patients had contact with affected instruments, we are recommending testing to all patients who visited the Southeast dental clinic during these dates. However, clients who visited our Baby Day dental clinic during these dates are NOT affected because no dental instruments are used with these clients.
The County is providing, free of charge, tests for HIV, hepatitis B and C, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We sincerely apologize to each and every patient affected and to their families,’’ said Dental Director Len Barozzini. “The risk of exposure is minimal, but we want to do everything we can to inform our patients fully and assure their care.” The County values openness, transparency, and believes that the best message is to be up front and candid with the public.
The instruments in question are not likely to have been used in procedures typically known to transmit infections. All instruments in the dental treatment rooms were discovered to have been properly packaged, indicating they had gone through the sterilization process.
The County has posted information about the incident online including a link to Frequently Asked Questions, and created a toll-free answer line, (877) 889-0888. Patients may also contact staff via email at SEDental.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Barozzini said that in addition to the investigation, the County has performed an extensive quality assurance review of its sterilization practices, and will continue to update and implement processes that lessen this risk to our patients. “We deeply regret this incident and are here to assist the community as needed,’’ Dr. Barozzini said.