OrilliaMatters received the following letter to the editor from Dr. John Hardie in response to 'Orillia dentist willing to go to jail to clear his name', published Dec. 18:
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has made statements regarding the infection control procedures in Dr. Joe Philip's clinic which require clarification.
Dr. Colin Lee, associate medical officer of health, has suggested that while the risk of transmission of infections in the clinic was low it was not zero.
Dr. Lee should know that reducing the risk to zero is simply not possible. No matter how rigorous infection control methods are, a residual risk of infection will always remain.
However, by making his statement, Dr. Lee was unfairly accusing Dr. Philip of being unable to guarantee a level of safety which, quite simply, cannot be achieved.
On other occasions, SMDHU has stated that Dr. Philip's practice was associated with a very low risk of transmitting infections.
Appreciating that a level of risk will always exist, public health authorities are of the opinion that when something is "very low risk" it should be considered, with as much surety as it is possible to have, as being safe. Therefore, by characterizing the clinic as being very low risk, SMDHU was indicating, unintentionally or otherwise, that it was a safe space.
These clarifications illustrate the merits of Dr. Philip seeking the court of public opinion to exonerate him from the claims being made by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
Dr. John Hardie