Oral Surgeon Investigated for Reusing Needles and Syringes

The Colorado Department of Public Health has released a lengthy document regarding an oral surgeon regarding unsafe injections. The document is from July 20, 2012, and is located over at http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Epidemiology/dentistFAQs.pdf.

The document states:

“Between September 1999 and June 2011, syringes and needles were re-used for multiple patients to give intravenous (IV) medications, including sedation. The IV medications were given during oral and facial surgery procedures. Needles and syringes were used repeatedly, often for days at a time. Because there can be a small amount of blood that remains in syringes and needles after an injection through an IV line, there is a risk of spread of bloodborne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, between patients.”

Patients who saw the oral surgeon in question were sent a mailing if they could be identified via medical records and told to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

The document states:

“People infected with viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C may not have symptoms for many years. It is possible you might have been infected and not know it.”

The document has lists several ways that patients can protect themselves and says

“It is important to remember the possible spread of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C was not related to the dental procedures, but rather to unsafe injection practices during the administration of medications, including sedation, to patients…..When proper injection practices are followed, medical and dental procedures, including oral surgery, are generally safe.”

There is actually not entirely true as I have discussed on the complications page there is a small risk of potential for disease transmission through anything contaminated with fluids and tissues such as dental instruments, dental chairs, and door knobs.

There is also a section at the end of the document for health providers to follow to help them follow safe injection practices. The document states:

  • “Never administer medications from the same syringe to more than one patient, even if the needle is changed
  • Do not enter a vial with a used syringe or needle
  • Never use medications packaged as single-use vials for more than one patient
  • Assign medications packaged as multi-use vials to a single patient whenever possible
  • Do not use bags or bottles of intravenous solution as a common source of supply for more than one patient
  • Maintain absolute adherence to proper infection control practices during the preparation and administration of injected medications”

9News in Colorado wrote a story on this article titled “Oral surgeon also investigated for Rx fraud” by Blair Shiff, July 14, 2012. The article states that around 8,000 patients were seen over this time period.

Many comments by former patients appear on this article with some commenting that they feel betrayed, furious, disgusted and did extensive research to find the oral surgeon in question.

 

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