Patients at Peterborough endodontic clinic advised to get tested for bloodborne infections

Peterborough Public Health is advising patients of Kawartha Endodontics who received treatment before July 16 to get tested for bloodborne infections. File / Global News

The owner of a Peterborough endodontic clinic is refuting a health unit advisory for patients to discuss getting tested for bloodborne infections after a lapse in equipment sterilization practices at the clinic.

On Thursday morning, Peterborough Public Health said it investigated a public complaint issued on July 15 about infection prevention and control practices at Kawartha Endodontics on Water Street. The clinic specializes in root canal treatment and surgery.

The health unit says its investigation found that medical equipment/devices were not cleaned and sterilized according to provincial infection prevention and control standards. Record keeping and policies/procedures were also incomplete, the health unit stated.

Results of the health unit’s investigation can be found online.

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“The investigation found that proper sterilization of dental instruments could not be confirmed,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health, during a press conference on Thursday.

The health unit says it issued an order to Dr. Rita Kilislian to close her clinic and also provided staff with a list of requirements under the provincial infections diseases advisory committee standards. A re-inspection request on July 18 was not approved. Following an inspection on July 25, a day later the health unit rescinded its order and the clinic was permitted to re-open.

Peterborough Public Health says it’s not aware of any cases of hepatitis B or C or HIV transmission related to the clinic which received referrals from across central Ontario.

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The health unit believes the risk of infection at the clinic is low. However, it is recommending anyone who received dental treatment at the clinic prior to July 16 to meet with a healthcare provider to discuss testing.

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“While the risk of infection at this clinic is believed to be low, the risk to an individual patient depends on the frequency and type of procedures that were performed,” said Salvaterra.

Patients at the clinic who received treatment prior to July 16, 2019 are asked to visit the Peterborough Public Health’s website. Patients who received treatment on or after July 26 are not at an increased risk of infection, the health unit stated.

The health unit notes Kawartha Endodontics is appealing the health unit’s recommendation that it contact all patients with information they need to make a decision about testing for the possible presence of bloodborne infections. A hearing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario could be held early next year.

Kawartha Endodontics on Water Street. Noor Ibrahim/Global News Peterborough

In an interview with Global News Peterborough, Kilislian said the health unit’s claims about the clinic are “completely false.”

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“We’ve appealed this and it’s going to be heard in January 2020,” she said. “My clinic is perfectly safe. I stand by myself and my team.

“Everything that is done here is completely accurate,” she said.

Andy Curnew, Kilislian’s husband, oversees legislative compliance at their clinics in Toronto and Peterborough. He alleges the health unit is politically motivated and “creating public hysteria for their own political agenda.”

He says it arises from the health unit’s recent campaign for a mobile dental clinic that Curnew’s wife publicly argued against, saying the dental clinics do not give patients the right to choose where to access dental care.

Curnew also said the office’s records are digital and claims that health inspectors refused to identify themselves when they requested the information.

“This was entirely retaliatory and not in the interest of the patients,” he said. “If it was, why didn’t you notify patients the day it happened?”

“Why would we notify patients that they should get an HIV test when it’s a lie?” he added.

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