Member for Burnett Rob Messenger stands by dental patient Gabrielle Carruthers.
Member for Burnett Rob Messenger stands by dental patient Gabrielle Carruthers. MAX FLEET

Patient mad at clinic's 'lies'

PATIENTS affected by the Bundaberg Hospital Dental Clinic sterilisation bungle have called for Queensland Health to come clean, with more people at risk of infection than initially thought.

Sixteen-year-old dental patient Gabrielle Carruthers said the story she had been told by the hospital had changed twice since the initial phone call telling her she was at risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV because of unsterilised instruments.

Yesterday morning, she met with Bundaberg Hospital acting director of operational services Gerard Devine, who told her she was one of the 33 on whom the instruments were used before the sterilisation process broke down on November 6.

Then yesterday afternoon, Queensland Health backflipped and said some of those 33 patients may have had unsterilised instruments used on them after all.

There are a further 235 people who may also have been affected by the instruments between November 6 and 13, some of whom have already submitted themselves for testing.

“I felt quite angry — really angry, actually. They lied to me,” Ms Carruthers said.

After her “rollercoaster” ordeal, it has now been established Ms Carruthers is among 22 of the initial group of 33 to be cleared of infection — but she must wait 12 weeks for the final all-clear.

Other patients affected by the bungle expressed their frustration with the way Queensland Health handled the situation.

One Bundaberg mum, who wants to remain anonymous, said she was not told anything apart from the fact she may have contracted a blood-borne disease and they would know more after the first batch of results..

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said he was told the machine used in the incident had not been checked by a technician since, nor could he get a guarantee human error was to blame.

“What it is showing for me is that there is not a proper investigation being carried out,” he said.

Queensland Health said it contacted 233 of the 235 patients potentially affected between November 6 and 13, of whom 76 sought testing.

The state’s chief dental officer will visit today to review affected patient files.



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