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Children screened over dental malfunction

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/01/2017

Children treated at a school dental clinic are to be screened after malfunctioning equipment meant there was "a very small chance" of exposure to unsterilised water, possibly containing blood or saliva.

Health authorities say public health nurses will be contacting parents and caregivers of children who attended the Pukekohe Intermediate clinic between September 13 and January 23.

Children who had a procedure involving compressed air, a drill, extraction or suction will be offered testing for blood-borne viral infections, in particular hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

However, the possibility of cross-infection is rated as small, as it is rare for New Zealand children to have any of those conditions.

"It is critical for parents to understand the risk is very low," Counties Manukau Health chief medical officer Dr Gloria Johnson said.

"If we do find cases of pre-existing infection, then we will prioritise screening for those children who were treated on the same day."

The clinic is operated by the Auckland Regional Dental Service and an investigation has started into the exact nature of the problem.

Dr Johnson said all ARDS clinics had been reviewed and the issue was found to be only with the one at Pukehoke Intermediate.

"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 care given to children across Auckland," she said.

"Our investigation will determine what longer term mitigations need to be put in place to ensure this type of fault doesn't occur in future.

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