WDHB tightens school dental processes

24 August 2012

An annual school dental service quality audit undertaken by the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has confirmed that a small number of children in the Marton area did not receive follow-up dental care after their initial assessment, within the timeframes considered best practice by the Ministry of Health.
Immediately following the WDHB’s discovery of this, all children who were assessed in the 12 months prior were re-checked and received any dental treatments they required. Dental care of all the children affected is now up-to-date.
Acting WDHB chief executive Brian Walden says the WDHB wants to assure parents, and the community, that the WDHB takes the safety and quality of its services very seriously and, as such, are doing everything possible to ensure any resulting harm is kept to a minimum.
“We have not taken this lightly and have undertaken a review of our processes. We will be auditing the service more frequently to identify any potential problems early, and to reduce the chances of this happening again,” says Mr Walden.
A dental paediatric specialist and a public health dentistry specialist from University of Otago were commissioned by chief executive Julie Patterson to review the cases of 33 patients examined between October 2010 and April 2012. They recommended individual follow-up care plans and regular frequent reviews for each child.
The two dentists will continue to support the WDHB with additional quality checks and reviews over the coming months.
The WDHB is committed to open and honest disclosure when the service provided is below the standard of care our children deserve. Therefore, WDHB staff have contacted or met with the parents of the five children most affected to discuss what occurred, WDHB’s initial response and the details relating to the care of each of their children.
The WDHB is also communicating with the parents, schools and surrounding dentists associated with any children examined during this time.
The practitioner concerned has ceased clinical practice and is no longer employed by the WDHB.

If any parents have any concerns, they can call 0800 DENTAL (0800 336 825, Monday to Friday, 8 – 5pm) for more information.