The legal team representing hundreds of dental patients in Ayrshire has revealed that the dentist at the centre of a HIV scare re-used gloves with multiple patients and didn’t bother cleaning instruments from one patient to the next. Using a freedom of information request to NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Thompsons Solicitors have discovered that Millbank and Drongan dental Surgeries, both owned and operated by dentist Alan Morrison, routinely used dirty dental instruments.
Inspectors for the health board were first alerted to a possible breach of infection control in September 2013. They visited both surgeries and discovered that staff had little or no training in cleaning dental instruments and were routinely using the same gloves for multiple patients.
Shocked inspectors handed Morrison a list of measures to clean up his act and promised to keep an eye on his progress. Only 2 months later the inspectors were contacted by a witness who claimed Mr Morrison had made little effort to improve hygiene and had told members of staff never to discuss with the health board or media what was going on at both surgeries.
This time NHS Ayrshire and Arran acted quickly and discovered that Mr Morrison, despite his warning, had given staff specific instructions not only to re-used gloves but other dental equipment too. Horrified inspectors discovered that scaling equipment and amalgam guns for fillings were not cleaned either. They immediately began to issue letters to around 5000 patients saying they must come in for HIV and Hepatitis tests.
Many of the people affected were families with small children who suffered huge stress and upset attending the hospital for these tests and then faced weeks of worry waiting for the results.
Commenting on the new information about the disgraceful conduct at both dental practices Patrick McGuire from Thompsons solicitors said “Until now all we knew is that the HIV tests were ordered due to a breach of infection control. But this FOI has laid bare the full extent of Mr Morrison’s total disregard for the safety of his patients. The list of discoveries made by health inspectors into the squalid conditions make truly shocking reading. And what makes this case almost unique in my experience is that Mr Morrison issued orders to his staff to re-use gloves and not clean dental equipment even after being caught out. Of course the result of this disgraceful conduct is hundreds of distressed families being forced to undergo blood tests. My team of experienced lawyers are currently pursuing this by all legal means and we are highly confident of getting proper compensation for every patient that’s been put through this awful ordeal. But most of all the families I represent want to know how this man can be allowed to continue practising as a dentist”