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Poor hygiene in dental surgeries

  • Dentist deemed a ‘risk to patients’ after she failed to maintain appropriate levels of infection control and hygiene at her practice.

    By Samantha Swaby

Dr Edworthy who practiced in Lympsham, was found to have failed to maintain appropriate levels of infection control at various times whilst working at the practice. Matters ranged from allowing her cats to enter the practice, using out of date fillings and failing to remove her gloves when touching items outside the sterile areas.


All dental practices have a duty to ensure that they effectively control and prevent infections. A failure to employ adequate measures can result in the dentist being held accountable to the General Dental Council (GDC). The GDC regulate dental professionals in the UK and set and maintain standards for the benefit of patients.

Dr Edworthy found herself before the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) at the GDC for failing to maintain appropriate levels of infection control and hygiene at the Practice, over a three year period.  The PCC were provided with evidence that found a number of the failings fell seriously below the standards of a reasonable dentist.

In considering whether the issues amounted to professional misconduct the Committee took into account the GDC’s ‘Standards for Dental Professionals’, in particular the following paragraphs:

– Put patients’ interests first and act to protect them
–  Put patients’ interests before you’re own or those of any colleague, organisation or business.

After hearing evidence from Dr Edworthy’s colleagues and inspection visits, Dr Edworthy was sanctioned by having 11 conditions imposed on her dental registration for a period of 9 months; the conditions would appear against her name and in the Dentists’ register on the GDC website.

To ensure that dentists adhere to these measures, dental practices are subject to checks by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC check to ensure that dentist are meeting a number of standards and one of these standards includes looking at the measures in place a practice has to control infection and the hygiene levels of the practice.

These checks, amongst others, ensure that patients are protected and that they receive good quality care.

Hygiene and good infection control is vital in any clinical environment, including dentist surgeries, to ensure that patients do not contract unnecessary infections which can cause them serious injury.  It is therefore vital that dentists are regularly monitored to ensure standards are being met, and sanctions imposed if they are not, to avoid unnecessary risks to patients.


The Dental Negligence Team have experience in dealing with many dental issues.  If you have concerns about whether you have suffered from an infection due to poor hygiene in dental surgeries or cross contamination then please contact the  lawyers in the Dental Negligence Team who will be able to advise and consider whether the treatment has been performed negligently and whether you are entitled to compensation as a result.

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