Dental patients urged to get checked after pair tests positive for hepatitis C

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is renewing its call for patients of an Orillia dental clinic to get tested for hepatitis C.

The health unit says two people, including a child, have tested positive for hepatitis C. The patients were tested after an advisory was issued in February about Dr. Joe Philip’s practice.

The health unit issued the advisory over concerns about equipment cleaning and sterilization.

“We’re more concerned than we were in February. What we know is these individuals received dental care there and received these unexpected hepatitis results,” says Dr. Colin Lee, associate medical officer of health.

However, Lee adds “there is no certainty on where these two individuals contracted hepatitis C.”

The health unit inspected the clinic in December after receiving a complaint. The office remains open, but Dr. Philip was not there on Tuesday.

“It is deeply irresponsible for the health unit to suggest that dental work is in any way related to the hepatitis C status of anyone when they have no reason to believe there is any correlation between a health status and dental work,” Philip said in a statement.

Philip maintains he has met or exceeded protocols set out by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. He says the health unit never had access to the clinic’s list of patients.

“Making it impossible for them to verify whether the individuals referenced are even, in fact, patients of Dr. Philip or received treatment at the clinic,” the statement reads.

The health unit isn’t able to confirm how many patients have been tested overall. They say the risk of infection remains low, but stress anyone who was a patient between January 2012 and December 2017 get tested for hepatitis B, C and HIV.

Dr. Philip has filed a $10-million lawsuit against the health unit over what he has called a “groundless and unprecedented attack” on his reputation.

The health unit wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but says it will continue its investigation as more test results come in.



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