NHS England Issues Desmond D'Mello Dental Patient Recall

Specialist Medical Lawyers Advise Patients To Undergo Tests As Soon As Possible

12.11.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Specialist medical negligence and product liability lawyers have expressed their concerns that 22,000 patients are to be recalled after a dentist was suspended for allegedly breaching infection control standards over a 32 year period.

NHS England has revealed that the General Dental Council suspended Desmond D’Mello for 18 months on 21 August 2014 for failings relating to cleanliness and sterilisation of instruments and poor working practices that may have led to a spread of infection. He ran the Daybrook Dental Surgery in Gedling which is no under new ownership.

A Care Quality Commission report on 17 July had raised concerns about the protection of patients from the risk of infection because guidance was not followed in relation to sterilisation techniques. NHS England has now announced that it is recalling 22,000 patients stretching back 32 years to undergo tests for blood borne viruses after seeking advice about the potential risks.

Sallie Booth is a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who has represented previous large group actions in medical negligence and product liability cases including patients infected with hepatitis C, which is a type of blood borne virus, says it is important that people undergo the necessary tests to see if they are affected.

Sallie said: “While the risk of infection is probably very low, blood borne viruses can be very serious and it is sensible that patients who think they could be affected are tested as soon as possible.

“However it is likely to take some time because there may be thousands of people who come forward for testing. It will be difficult to trace people who may have been patients decades ago and who may have moved away from the area. It is also likely that some historical dental records may no longer exist.

“There may also be a need for some on-going screening as Hepatitis C, for instance, can take up to 30 years before it develops properly because of its incubation period. Simply being checked out now may not be enough.

“The errors made by Desmond D’Mello, as described by NHS England, are very basic and totally unacceptable. There is no excuse for a failure to wash hands, change gloves and use properly sterilised instruments for each patient. These practices are a fundamental part of healthcare but you don’t have to be a medical professional to know about these issues.

“Sterilisation processes are there to prevent the risk of infection, and although the risk is very low for most patients, a recall is the right thing to do because blood borne viruses can be extremely serious and have potentially long-lasting health implications. There could also be other lifestyle implications for someone inadvertently infected with HIV or Hepatitis C.

“These problems were seemingly identified in an inspection by the CQC in July – so the question needs to be asked why it is only four months later that patients are being told. We would advise any concerned patients to contact the NHS helpline or visit the drop in centre as soon as possible.”

NHS England confirmed that patients can call a new helpline 03330 142479 which is available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week while during the same hours a community clinic has also been set up at the Arnold Health Centre in the Highcroft Medical Centre on the High Street in Arnold, Nottingham.

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