by Gino Mattorano, Regional Health Command Europe
HOHENFELS, Germany — The Hohenfels Dental Clinic recently discovered that the sterilization process for a small number of dental instrument sets may not have been fully completed. These sets were used in the care of patients seen at the dental clinic on Friday, July 5, Monday, July 8, and Tuesday, July 9.
The Hohenfels Dental Clinic is in the process of contacting patients who were treated during that timeframe to discuss precautionary steps to ensure their health and safety.
“We care deeply about the safety of our patients and take patient safety very seriously,” said Lt. Col. Paul Boquet, Dental Activity Bavaria commander. “The potential health risk to affected patients is very low. However, we are taking these precautionary measures to ensure the safety of patients seen on those days.”
Surgical instruments are cleaned using a multi-step process that includes being sprayed down with a disinfectant, followed by being cleaned in an industrial washer/disinfector. The final step is sterilization with an autoclave, which is a steam-filled pressure chamber used to sterilize surgical equipment, laboratory instruments, pharmaceutical items, and other materials. In this case, the autoclave failed to completely sterilize several sets of dental instruments. Once the problem was discovered, all steps were taken to correct the issue, and ensure future malfunctions will not impact patients.
“We sincerely apologize for this incident, and are working closely with the Hohenfels Army Health Clinic to offer follow-on care to ensure there is no negative impact to the health of affected patients,” added Boquet.
“Dental Health Command Europe is looking very closely at this incident and using it as an opportunity to improve our processes across all of our dental facilities in Europe, to ensure we are doing all we can to provide safe, quality dental care to our patients,” said Col. Manuel Pozo-Alonso, DHCE commander.
Patients seen during that timeframe are asked to contact the U.S. Army Health Clinic Hohenfels as soon as possible to discuss precautionary steps to ensure their health and safety. Contact the U.S. Army Health Clinic Hohenfels at Commercial 06371-9464-3300 or DSN 314-590-3300.