Dental Patients Warned of Possible HIV and Hepatitis Exposure Due to Oral Surgeon’s Practices

Previously in this post Oral Surgeon Investigated for Reusing Needles and Syringes it was discussed how last summer in 2012 an oral surgeon in Colorado was investigated for re-using syringes and needles while performing various oral and facial surgery procedures. Around 8,000 patients were told to be tested for potential HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Recently, in Oklahoma around 7,000 patients were told to be tested for potential HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C who were treated by an oral surgeon due to his potentially rusty instruments and lax sterilization procedures.

A complaint by the Oklahoma  Board of  Dentistry was filed against the oral surgeon on March 26, 2013. It is located over at http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/ktul/documents/Harrington_Complaint_OBD.pdf.

The complaint says that an unidentified patient who was treated by the oral surgeon tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C shortly after being treated for dental procedures. The complaint says that during the Dental Board’s investigation there were multiple sterilization issues, multiple cross contamination issues, the drug cabinet was often unlocked, and some of the dental assistants were routinely providing the IV sedation for some procedures. In addition, it was found that no written infection prevention policies and procedures were available or used.

The complaint goes on to say that the oral surgeon was a menace to the public health for practicing dentistry in an unsafe or unsanitary manner and committed gross negligence by deferring decisions and supervision of cleaning and infection control to dental assistants.

The American Dental Association (ADA) posted on March 29, 2013, that they are monitoring the news story of the Oklahoma oral surgeon, see ADA cites infection control resources as media focuses on Oklahoma oral surgeon. The ADA also issued a press release.

The ADA says

“The ADA has long recommended that all practicing dentists, dental team members and dental laboratories use standard precautions as described in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Infection Control in Dental Health Care Settings guidelines…Infection control procedures are designed to protect patients and health care workers by preventing the spread of diseases like hepatitis and HIV. Examples of infection control in the dental office include the use of masks, gloves, surface disinfectants and sterilizing reusable dental devices. In addition, dental health care providers are expected to follow procedures as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”

The ADA also recommends that if dental patients have any concerns they discuss with their dentist their infection control procedures. The ADA also issued several talking points to dentists to help them discuss infection control with their patients.

Additional Source: Donna Domino, “7,000 patients warned of possible hepatitis, HIV exposure,” DrBicuspid.com. March 29, 2013

Leave a Comment