Over 40 children accidentally treated with drain cleaner instead of dental fluid
More than 40 children suffered burning sensations and blistering in their mouths after being accidentally given dental solution containing drain-cleaning fluid.
It has emerged that 43 children had procedures with the potentially dangerous mix on Wednesday and Thursday before the problem was noticed.
An investigation is under way to finding out how the drain-cleaning fluid, which contains toxic chemicals, was mistaken for dental fluid and mixed with water.
It happened at the HSE-run dental clinic in Bindon Street, Ennis, Co Clare, and came to light only after dental staff noticed increased irritability by children having the dental treatment.
It is understood the cleaning product was heavily diluted but inadvertently attached to the rinse aid used by children and adult patients while in the dentist's chair at five surgeries within the clinic.
A spokesman for the HSE said early indications were that a drain-cleaning product was added in error to the water solution used in the dental equipment, as opposed to the normal solution.
"We have established that 43 primary school children underwent procedures between October 4 and 5 which involved the use of this water solution.
"We have contacted the majority of these 43 families. However, there are a small number of families who were not contactable by phone. These families have been written to.
"We have advised the families of the incident and recommended they are reviewed by a GP if they present with any symptoms."
The HSE said that two patients attended the A&E department at University Hospital Limerick but did not require admission.
One patient attended the local injuries unit and two patients attended the out-of-hours service Shannon Doc.
Other patients reported an upset stomach, burning sensation in mouth or blistering, but the majority of patients have not reported any symptoms.
HSE Mid West chief officer Bernard Gloster said: "This is so regrettable and unfortunate.
"I want to apologise for any concern or upset caused to the children and their families.
"We are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure they are supported and have adequate information. We will be conducting a full review to establish all of the facts.
"I am grateful to all of our management staff and clinicians who worked very hard late into last night to respond to this incident."
Parents have been asked to attend or make contact with the clinic at Bindon Street if they wish to discuss their concerns with a dental surgeon.
Drain cleaners contain dangerous chemicals that can be harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or come in contact with the skin and eyes.