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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Dirty dentists put patients at risk

8th October 2012

A Freedom of Information request by The Telegraph has found one in nine dentists inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) breached guidelines on how to clean tools and limit the spread of diseases.


Of the 1,667 dentists inspected by the CQC in 2011, 189 were discovered not to follow Department of Health rules on how to ensure the cleanliness of equipment and surgeries.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the charity The Patient’s Association, said: "Infection control practices in dentistry must be given the highest priority. All too often patients tell our helpline that they have concerns about cleanliness."

Department of Health experts advise that dental tools are cleaned in one sink, rinsed in another, viewed under a microscope to identify "fragments" and cleaned in an ultrasonic bath or steam cleaner.

The tools must then be dated and stored in sterile packets for up to 21 days. However, many practices were not following this advice, according to the CQC inspections.

Staff at a "cluttered and dirty" surgery in North London could not say whether tools had been cleaned or not, and did not know if equipment was re-usable or disposable.

Needle kits and medicines were placed alongside staff lunches in a fridge, and used gloves were put on top of a sterilisation machine.

At the ADP Dental Company’s branch in Bath, staff informed inspectors that ultrasonic equipment was not working and therefore they "could not clean the equipment quickly enough" and sometimes "did not bother" with hand-washing. 

Inspectors commented: "People may not be fully protected against the risks of cross infection."

A spokesman said: "The issues highlighted have been immediately addressed and rectified to the correct standards. We have also delivered additional training and checking mechanisms since the report was published to ensure we maintain the highest standards for all our patients." 


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