Instruments that were not fully sterilised used on patients: National Dental Centre Singapore

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Part of the sterilisation process for dental instrument at the NDCS. (PHOTO: National Dental Centre Singapore)

Due to a lapse in its cleaning processes, up to 72 patients were treated with dental instruments which were not fully sterilised, said the National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) on Monday (12 June).

In a media statement, Singapore’s largest dental specialty centre said that is now reaching out to the 714 patients who visited some of its specialist outpatient clinics earlier this month. It is also conducting a thorough review of the incident and the processes involved, while additional controls have been implemented to prevent any recurrence.

The lapse was discovered on 5 June and the affected instruments were retrieved by the following day. By then, 72 packs of instruments had already been used for treatment on patients at its specialist outpatient clinics on Levels 2, 4 and 6 of the NDCS building.

While the instruments had gone through the first two steps of sterilisation – machine washing and thermal disinfection – they had not completed the final step of steam sterilisation. The first two steps remove and inactivate organisms, including viruses, while the final step destroys bacterial spores.

An NDCS spokesman stressed that the risk of infection to patients is “extremely low”, given the nature of treatment at the outpatient clinics and the completion of the earlier steps in the sterilisation process, which would remove close to 100 per cent of organisms of concern.

Nevertheless, NDCS director Poon Choy Yoke said, “Patient safety and well-being are our first priority. We deeply regret this incident and sincerely apologise to our patients for the lapse and any anxiety caused. We have taken immediate steps to strengthen our processes and ensure the safety of all patients in our care.”

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