An investigation has been launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE) following a health scare involving drain cleaning fluid at its dental clinic in Ennis, Co Clare.
Five dental surgeries at the facility have been closed while the HSE makes contact with the parents of 43 children believed to have undergone treatment there on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Dental Clinic at Bindon Street in Ennis has six surgeries, five of which were in operation at the time the incident. The HSE has confirmed it is undertaking ‘corrective action’ after drain cleaning fluid, rather than dental product, was apparently mixed with water during treatment of patients.
After the problem was detected on Thursday, staff at the facility commenced the process of contacting the parents of children who might have been affected. It wasn’t immediately clear how the issue was detected and whether it was by staff or by the parents of a patient.
HSE Midwest Chief Bernard Gloster told RTE Radio One’s News at One that 11 children have reported mild irritation and discomfort and have been seen by either their local GP or medical centre.
A HSE spokesman has said: “HSE Mid West Community Healthcare is currently in contact with the parents of up to 43 children to establish if they were affected by an apparent problem at the HSE Dental Clinic in Bindon St Ennis Co. Clare.”
“The incident is believed to have occurred on Wednesday 4th and continued until it was detected on Thursday 5th. Early indications, yet to be confirmed, suggest that a drain cleaning product got mixed with the water used during treatment when normally the water would be mixed with an approved dental product,” the HSE has said.
As a result of the incident, the surgeries were closed today for corrective action but the HSE says it hopes they will be back in operation by Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.
HSE Mid West Chief Officer Bernard Gloster said: “This is so regrettable and unfortunate. I want to apologise for any concern or upset caused to the children and their families.”
“We are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure they are supported and have adequate information. We will be conducting a full review to establish all of the facts. I am grateful to all of our management staff and clinicians who worked very hard late into last night to respond to this incident,” Mr Gloster added.
Clare County Councillor and member of the HSE’s Regional Health Forum (West) PJ Ryan said: “A mistake has obviously been made here and I would be concerned about how long it will now take to reschedule appointments for any of the 43 who have been affected.”
“The HSE has responded quickly to this and hopefully all those concerned are alright but they (HSE) need to firstly establish what happened here and put some mechanism in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I also hope that the clinics can reopen as soon as possible,” Cllr Ryan said.
HSE Midwest Chief Bernard Gloster told RTE Radio One’s News at One the HSE “have the situation under control”.
“We have it under control, we are following it up. I wholeheartedly want to say I am very sorry,” Mr Gloster said on air.