WORLD NEWS

We at Dentistry’s Dirty Secret want to inform the public about recent infection control breaches happening around the world.

Infection control breaches in dental offices are not isolated events. These events are happening around the world at alarming rates. The selected news stories are just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of cases that go unreported and until the public begins to understand the issue, no change can or will be made.

Tomah, Wisconsin The Federalist
by Bre Payton
December 01, 2016
Wisconsin VA Hospital May Have Infected 600 Veterans With HIV Or Hepatitis

A dentist at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wisconsin exposed nearly 600 veterans to infectious diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, say VA administrators. From October 2015 to October 2016, a dentist at the Tomah VA exposed 592 veterans to infectious diseases by reusing his own dental equipment and "cleaning" it instead of using the sterile and disposable equipment provided by the VA, said Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm.

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Anaheim, California The Orange County Register
by Courtney Perkes
October 25, 2016
CHOC given $150,000 to treat children sickened in dental clinic infection outbreak

Children's Hospital of Orange County will receive $150,000 in county funds to help provide complex treatment to children who contracted serious infections at an Anaheim dental clinic, the Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday. So far, 57 children who underwent baby tooth root canals, or pulpotomies, at Children's Dental Group have been hospitalized at CHOC with confirmed or probable mycobacterial infections.

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Anaheim, California The Orange County Register
by Courtney Perkes
September 27, 2016
Dental infection outbreak at Anaheim clinic now at 22 children

Pediatric dental infections contracted at an Anaheim clinic increased to 22 on Tuesday, as Children's Dental Group said most of the 500 children who underwent root canals there have been examined for signs of illness. Among the 22 patients, ages 3 to 9, six remain hospitalized. Three children tested positive for mycobacterial infections and the 19 others are considered probable. Testing of the clinic's water system, which has been shut down, found mycobacterium, which can contaminate a water supply when found in large numbers or is a particularly virulent strain. All 500 children who underwent root canal treatments have been asked to come in for an examination for precautionary measures.

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Mount Olive, New Jersey New Jersey 101.5
by Louis C. Hochman
August 15, 2016
Dentist's office linked to 15 bacterial infections and 1 death, but still allowed to operate

A northern New Jersey dentist whose unsanitary practices were linked to 15 serious bacterial infections - and one death - is still being allowed to practice under a state consent order. In inspections in 2014, health officials found a range of violations, the consent decree states - using common alcohol pumps, using a single vial for multiple patient's medications, pre-filling syringes, non sterile preparation of instruments, poor documentation of medication units used and others. The consent order details a history dating back to 2012, when two individuals were diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis - both requiring heart surgery - after getting wisdom tooth extractions at John Vecchione's Budd Lake office.

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Memphis, Tennessee KOAA 5
by Channel 5 News
July 26, 2016
Dirty dentist puts patients at risk

Patients treated at a Memphis dental clinic were advised to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV after "breaches in infection control" may have put them at risk. Unsanitary conditions included bloody gauze on the floor, the sink crusted with grime and dirt, unidentifiable substances in the sink drain, and a hand piece that goes directly into patient's mouth lying on an extremely dirty floor besides the cabinet.

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New Zealand Stuff
by Donna-Lee Biddle
May 10, 2016
Dentist accused of using dirty tools on patients, risking hepatitis infection

A dentist treating patients with hepatitis allegedly re-used the same dirty instruments on others. Authorities have no idea how many people were potentially exposed to the disease when the incidents unfolded in February and March, 2014. Sterilization wasn't part of the dentist's procedure, according to a witness. Instead, he rinsed his instruments in the sink, dried them with a paper towel and used them again on other patients. The dentist in question continued these practices till a pair of prison guards complained to their superior officer. The dentist is being charged with failing to comply with professional hygiene standards, which include failing to take steps to minimize the risk of cross-infection and to provide treatment that was unhygienic and rough.

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Drongan, Scotland Metro.co.uk
by Ollie McAteer
January 19, 2016
Patients test positive for Hepatitis C after HIV scare at dental practice

Nearly 6,000 people needed blood tests after a woman blew the whistle on a dental surgery that allegedly reused gloves, matrix bands, and did not sterilize aspirators or dental equipment. This was all done in a location of the city where drug dependency is very high. The hygiene allegations against Dr. Alan Morrison also include reusing single-use drill bits, keeping unclean amalgam guns used for fillings and dirty scaling equipment. In the whistleblowers’ statement, she said: “They were only getting wiped down with alcohol wipes after each patient whether they had blood on them or not and were put back into the drawer.” When reusing gloves, they would simply spray a solution on the gloves and then move onto the next patient. Office staff is also facing criminal charges for conspiring to falsify documents in cover-up and threatening the whistleblower ex-employee. On January 19th, an update to this news story was made. 4 patients have tests positive for hepatitis C.

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North Carolina All That's News Society
by Mackenzie Wright
June 12, 2016
Dirty Dentist Might Be At It Again, People Fear

A dentist in North Carolina lost his license to practice dentistry and went to jail for doing something unbelievably disgusting to his patients. Now he's moved to a new country, and he's trying to get back in business. Back in 2005, Dr. John Hall pled guilty to charges that said he injected semen into the mouths of his patients while he worked on their teeth. Despite the unbelievable crime he committed, Hall walked away with barely a slap on the wrists. He spent only four months in jail.

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Shreveport, Louisiana KSLA News 12
by Victoria Shirley
October 29, 2015
Shreveport dental office fires employee over not completely sanitized dental tools

An internal audit conducted at a Shreveport Kool Smiles dental office has revealed an employee failed to completely sterilize dental equipment. A Kool Smiles spokesman told KSLA News 12 the dental instruments had been washed, but were missing an extra step of sterilization. Kool Smiles has voluntarily notified 44 patients, and is providing free preventive health options to affected families.

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South East Wales BBC News
October 20, 2015
3,000 Cardiff patient alerts over Splott Dentist

More than 3,000 dental patients are being contacted over concerns a Cardiff dentist re-used equipment that should have been thrown away. Dr. Mark Roberts was dismissed as a whistleblower claimed he re-used syringe cartridges and root canal surgery files that were suppose to be single-use. These problems were not found even after health inspections were previously made at the surgery. It took a whistleblower to show evidence of the actual events. The dental surgery has since changed ownership and the problems no longer exist.

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Sydney, Australia Amy C and Kate A
by The Sydney Morning Herald
July 02, 2015
Sydney dentist scare: Hygiene breaches put 11,000 people at risk of HIV and Hepatitis

More than 11,000 patients were recalled for testing after NSW health authorities discovered major breaches in infection control at multiple The Gentle Dentist clinics. These clinics were cited for poor cleaning and sterilization of equipment. One of the dentists in question said at his age, 75, it made it difficult for him to keep up with changing regulations.

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Jonesboro, Georgia CBS46
by Harry Samier
October 03, 2015
Infections traced back to kids' dental clinic; patients unaware

A number of pre-schoolers and school-aged children got sick after visiting an area dental clinic. Late Friday, state officials confirmed what CBS46 already knew: that those preschoolers, who suffered from open sores in their mouths, were patients at Dentistry for Children in Jonesboro. Children's Health Care of Atlanta documented more than a dozen separate cases of the painful sores, caused by Lymphadenitis, in recent weeks. When officials at Children's Health Care of Atlanta realized there was a problem, they altered state epidemiologists who tracked down the Jonesboro clinic as the source of the outbreak of Lymphadenitis, which can be caused by contaminated medical equipment.

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Tucson, Arizona Arizona Daily Star
by Stephanie Innes
April 28, 2015
El Rio contacting patients over dental sterilization error

56 dental patients were contacted after a dental sterilization error. The 56 patients were urged to undergo blood testing for hepatitis B, C, and HIV. El Rio Dental has a three-step process for sterilization of their equipment. The third step was not completed on six pieces of equipment that were used during that time frame. These pieces of equipment were all handheld instruments, one being a tooth polisher. El Rio Community Health Center apologizes for this mistake and remains committed to full transparency in issues of patient safety.

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Nottinghamshire, UK The Mirror
by Martin Fricker
March 17, 2015
Five Former patients of HIV-scare dentist Desmond D’Mello test positive for hepatitis C

More than 22,000 patients were called in for testing after dentist was found to be violating multiple infection control protocols. Investigations began after a young woman died weeks after being treated by Dr. Desmond De’Mello. The former patient died of flu-like symptoms and heart palpitations. The young women’s death sparked the largest patient recall in NHS history. Failing to sterilize equipment and washing of hands were the two main violations. Of the patients tested, so far five have tested positive for hepatitis C. Dentist D’Mello is no longer practicing and is currently being sued for £4 million.

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West Point, New York Times Herald-Record
by by Michael Randall
January 15, 2015
Patients alerted to West Point dental facility’s past sterilization issue

Officials from West Point’s Saunders Dental Facility have contacted more than 2,000 patients who might have been treated with instruments that were not sterilized to the clinic’s usual standards. From July 9th to October 1st of 2014, it was found that one of the clinic’s three sterilizers did not fully complete the sterilization process.

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Kent, Washington KIRO 7
by KIRO 7
October 20, 2014
Kent dentist suspended, accused of dirty dental clinic
A Kent dentist who's served patients for 16 years has been suspended for unsafe and unclean conditions at his dental clinic. Officials with the Washington state Department of Health said the conditions at Dr. Charles Pan's office are an "immediate danger" to patients and said problems with infection control were rampant. KIRO 7 spotted dental tools in a solution in the sink, dental molds in baskets and other spots, and many other items disorganized. After another patient came forward on May 21, a health investigator visited Pan's office on May 29 and found failures in infection control, in the areas of protective barriers and sterilization techniques.

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Shamokin, Pennsylvania 16 WNEP
by Suzanne Goldklang
June 14, 2014
Dentist suspended, patients face HIV testing

A dentist in Shamokin is suspended after officials found he did not follow appropriate protocol to clean his tools. Inspection revealed Dr. Vincent Paczkoskie did not follow appropriate procedures to properly clean, disinfect or sterilize his tools in his North Shamokin Street office. Investigations also found that there was no evidence of instruments being sterilized after June of 2013. The suspension is temporary and a hearing will be scheduled if Paczkoskie wants to appeal.

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Concord, New Hampshire New Hampshire Union Leader
by Bill Smith
May 05, 2014
Manchester dentist's license suspended; patients told of possible infections

Public health agencies are investigating the office procedures of Manchester dentist Nicholas Marshall to determine if patients are at risk for serious infectious diseases. Patients have been told to check with their physicians about whether to be tested for infection by the hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV viruses after the state Board of Dental Examiners suspended Marshall's license to practice dentistry because of "imminent threat to the life, safety and/or health of his patients. Specifically, the dental board found "improper infection control procedures" that could put patients at risk of infection by blood-borne pathogens.

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England, UK The Telegraph
by Sam Marsden
January 02, 2014
NHS dentistry is ‘unfit for purpose’, professionals warn

Ministers are accused of hiding the “rotten truth” about mismanagement of NHS dental services in a letter signed by more than 100 family dentists. They say the “continuous limitations and compromises” that hamper their work mean it is impossible for them to deliver the high standards of care to the whole population promised by the Government. Dr. Anthony Kilcoyne said there are dentists to whom the NHS is saying, ‘we are going to reduce your funding because you are spending too much time with patients and doing a good job”. The NHS is pushing for a more target-driven culture instead of a culture based on providing superior dental care.

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Berkely County, West Virginia Association of Health Care Journalists
by Mary Otto
October 16, 2013
Hepatitis cases highlight infection control for temporary dental clinics

Investigators documented problems with infection control at the large Mission of Mercy clinic, held at a school gymnasium. Notification letters were sent to 1,137 patients and 826 volunteers who worked at or received care from the Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic on June 26 and 27, 2009. At this time, health officials say they suspect that five people have been infected with hepatitis B at this dental clinic. Infection control breaches revolved around reusing unsterilized handpicks, leaving sterilized instruments unwrapped and allowing patients to transport their own partially used anesthetic carpules.

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British Columbia, Canada CBC News
by Petti Fong
August 10, 2013
Bedroom dental clinic ‘scary,’ health officials say

David Wu, who treated 1,500 patients at his Burnaby home, was not following proper sterilization techniques. David Wu was also found to have no authority to be practicing dentistry. Dental tools and orthodontic fittings were stored in paper boxes and there was no sterilizer for equipment found. David Wu was practicing dentistry for over 20 years at various private residences in Metro Vancouver. David Wu’s whereabouts is currently unknown.

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Little Rock, Arkansas Fox News Health
by Associated Press
April 10, 2013
Arkansas dental patients potentially exposed to infectious material

Arkansas health officials recommended blood tests for about 100 young patients of a dentist who sedated them with drugs possibly contaminated with infectious material. Investigators do not know how or who potentially tampered with the vials of medicine. Dr. William Jarrod Stewart admitted to having a substance abuse addiction and surrendered his license in Louisiana in 1998. He then attained another license to practice in Arkansas, where he tested positive for cocaine. Dr. Stewart died before he faced the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners in 2010.

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Oklahoma, USA Daily Mail
by Daily Mail Reporter
May 01, 2013
Oklahoma dentist investigated In HIV scare is ‘Menace To the Public Health,’ State Dentistry Board Says

In 2013 there was the first reported case of patient-to-patient transmission of Hepatitis C. Due to lack of infection control protocols, over 7,000 former patients had to be tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C. Of those tested, 89 tested positive for Hepatitis B, and four for HIV. This is the first known case of patient-to-patient transmission of a deadly disease in a clinical setting. Scott Harrington and office staff is currently being investigated for 2 counts of felonies for their criminal actions.

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York, Pennsylvania Disinfection & Sterilization
June 04, 2013
DOH Investigating York County Dentist for Potential Breaches in Infection Control, Sterilization

Pennsylvania Department of Health has advised current and past patients of Dr. Jacqueline A. Marcin to seek out hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV testing as a result of non-compliance to properly clean, disinfect, or sterilize her dental devices. Dr. Marcin’s license has been temporarily suspended.

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Spokane, Washington KHQ Channel 6
January 25, 2013
Dental Patients Tested for HIV/Hepatitis In Health Scare

Almost 40 patients were called back to a local dental clinic for HIV and hepatitis testing this week after they were possibly exposed to instruments which employees believe may not have been properly sterilized. One of the staff members recognized that a test strip on the sterilization pouch that contained instruments did not change color, meaning sterilization was not done properly. After going through all their drawers, they found 13 other sterilization pouches with the same issue. This prompted calls to their recent patients to come back to be tested for HIV and hepatitis. This office is best known for treating thousands of the region’s uninsured and low-income adults.

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England, UK The Telegraph
by Matthew Holehouse
October 07, 2012
Dirty dentists putting patients at risk of infection

Patients are being put at risk of infection by dentists who fail to clean surgical equipment properly, research reveals. One in nine dentists inspected by health care watchdog were found to be in breach of strict guidelines on cleanliness and infection control designed to prevent the spread of conditions such as HIV, hepatitis and vCJD. An analysis reveals that of the 1,667 dental practices inspected by the CQC last year, 189 were found to not be following Department of Health instructions on how to clean instruments and surgeries. Some equipment cannot be cleaned and re-used safely and most be thrown away after each patient. But dozens of practices are disregarding the rules, inspectors found. 

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Hong Kong, China South China Morning Post
by Jolie Ho and Joyce Ng
November 04, 2012
HIV, hepatitis infection scare at HKU dental hospital

The dental clinic at the University of Hong Kong is calling on 250 patients to take blood tests for HIV and hepatitis B and C after discovering equipment had not been properly sterilized. A senior staff member discovered that a key step in disinfecting instruments had been skipped for four days in a row. The error was noticed when the staff member found the labels of some instruments were not of the right color, suggesting they had not been put in the autoclave sterilizer. The university has setup a team to review the sterilization procedures and immediately apologized for their mistakse.

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St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis Dispatch
by Blythe Bernhard
April 10, 2012
Issues go unsolved at St. Louis VA medical center

John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis still needs to improve its sterilization procedures two years after problems in dental clinic first identified. In 2010, the dental clinic notified more than 1,800 veterans that they might have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and C. So far, 4 patients have tested positive for hepatitis. The VA Center was cited for visibly dirty dental instruments, even after going through the sterilization cycle.

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Denver, Colorado The Legal Examiner
by Paul Napoli
July 15, 2012
8,000 patients advised to get HIV, Hepatitis tests after dentist caught reusing needles & syringes

Offices of Dr. Stephen Stein, a dentist that practiced oral surgery, were investigated after reports of unsafe injection practices were found. The investigation found that the office saved syringes and needles used to inject medications into patients and used those same needles repeatedly, often for days at a time. Dr. Stephen Stein has since surrendered his dental license and is no longer practicing. Since October 1, 2012, six former patients of Stein have tested positive for hepatitis or HIV. Since then the dentist was arrested while driving under the influence of cocaine.

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Dayton, Ohio Associated Press
by Dan Sewell
May 29, 2011
VA infection issues lead to 13,000 veterans’ tests: Improper hygiene may have exposed patients to HIV, hepatitis or other blood-borne disease

Warning letters have been sent to 13,000 U.S. veterans in the last two years urging them to seek testing for potentially fatal infections after possible exposures by improper hygiene practices at five VA hospitals in Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee. A dentist who practiced there for decades repeatedly violated safety measures such as failing to sterilize equipment or change soiled latex gloves, potentially exposing patients to HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases. After testing, 8 patients were found with HIV and 61 patients with hepatitis.

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Bristol, UK Dailymail.com
by Daily Mail Reporter
June 01, 2009
Thousands of patients told of HIV risk after visiting 'dentist with dirty instruments'

Bristol patients are due in to receive letters advising them that they may be at risk of HIV or hepatitis after a dentist was found to have been operating poor infection control measures. 5,000 letters were sent to patients that were treated at Frenchay Dental Practice and East Street Dental Practice in Bedminster. The cause for concern was that the dental instruments were not adequately sterilized.

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Inverness, Scotland The Free Library
by Farlex by Judith Duffy
September 04, 2004
3000 In HIV Scare Over Dirty Dentist; Patients offered blood tests

More than 3000 patients are being offered HIV tests after claims that a dentist used dirty instruments. Chris Parkin, a dentist who works in the same building, raised concerns that Dr. John Halliday’s equipment was not always sterilized properly. Investigators spoke with past and present colleagues of Dr. Halliday and found out there had been concerns about the cleanliness of instruments for over two years, but no one spoke up.

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Fort Pierce, Florida People Magazine
by Bonnie Johnso
Vol. 34 – No.16
October 22, 1990
A Life Stolen Early: Nobody Knows How It Happened, but Kim Bergalis May Have Contracted AIDS at the Dentist’s

CDC reports strongly suggest that Kimberly Bergalis contracted AIDS during a 1987 tooth extraction performed by Dr. David J. Acer, a dentist that is now known to have AIDS. Kimberly Bergalis, 22 at the time, had no other “risky” behaviors to suggest she contracted the disease anywhere but from Dr. Acer’s dental office. This case sparked controversy whether a health-care professional and patient should have to undergo testing before any invasive procedure. It also shed light on the importance in which infection control procedures needed to be rethought.

NOTE: Kimberly Bergalis died at the age of 23. Over the next few months a total of 5 other patients of Dr. Acer were also diagnosed with AIDS. This was the first case of dentist-to-patient transmission of HIV in a clinical setting. Both dentists and dental manufacturers had to rethink proper safety and infection protocols to ensure patients were safe while being treated.

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These stories all highlight issues with infection control and sterilization breaches. But there are even more scarier issues at dental offices.