Deputy Premier Paul Lucas visits Bundaberg Hospital to examine the dental clinic after the recent health scare.
Deputy Premier Paul Lucas visits Bundaberg Hospital to examine the dental clinic after the recent health scare. Max Fleet

Dental bungle a human slip

A BREAKDOWN in “fail safe” procedures, according to Minister for Health Paul Lucas, has been blamed for the sterilisation bungle at the Bundaberg Hospital Dental Clinic.“This is a fail safe procedure with a number of steps to take place in it,” he said.

Mr Lucas said when equipment had undergone the correct sterilisation procedure, a tag attached to the instruments would change colour and the machine would provide a printout of what temperature it was working at.

“So we have had a failure of procedure here and I’m not going to cop any explanations about equipment when there has been a failure in procedure,” he said.

Mr Lucas said the blood tests of the 33 original patients treated on November 6 — who were called in after it was discovered last Friday that unsterilised equipment may have been used on them — had come back negative.

The negative results were a relief for a further 235 patients who went to the clinic the following week and may have had contaminated instruments used on them.

Mr Lucas said, despite the all-clear, the incident was far from over.

“Of course there will be a very rigorous investigation by the quality commission and the dental board, who have been notified,” he said.

Mr Lucas said Queensland Health was conducting its own investigations.

“If people have done the wrong thing then I expect disciplinary action will be taken,” he said.

Bundaberg Hospital Patient Support Group president Beryl Crosby said disciplinary action was not the best avenue.

“When someone’s made human error, we still need people feeling comfortable in saying when something has gone wrong or if they’ve made a mistake,” she said.

Queensland Health director-general Mick Reid said the test results ruled out the risk of exposure or contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

“But if people wish to have follow-up tests, these can be arranged, at no cost to patients, by telephoning 4150 2196,” he said.

Mr Reid said the hospital would act on any recommendations resulting from investigations.



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