Dentist May Have Exposed 7,000 Patients to HIV and Hepatitis

Dentists sometimes get a bad reputation, and a dentist in Tulsa, Oklahoma is not helping after he was discovered exposing patients to dangerous illnesses because of this unsafe practice. The Tulsa Health Department is already working hard to warn 7,000 patients who visit a dentist in the area that they could have contracted HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C from a poor sterilization process at the facility.

An oral surgeon with the initials W.H. was recently investigated when the state dental board learned that one of his patients tested positive for hepatitis C and HIV without any other risk factors than receiving dental treatment. W.H. is also being summoned to answer questions by the state bureau of narcotics and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

After the patient reported that the dentist may have been to blame for the illnesses, the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry paid a surprise visit to W.H.'s clinic. They discovered rusty instruments which were being used on patients with known infections, and learned that the dentist would pour bleach on wounds until they turned white. Patients that use to visit this dentist are being redirected to other dental offices in the area as the government agencies continue to probe W.H.'s questionable practices.

The dentist was a Medicaid provider, which means that many of his patients had HIV or hepatitis before receiving dental treatment. By failing to sterilize dental tools, there is a high probability that these dangerous illnesses spread from infected patients to healthy ones. As well, this dentist allowed unlicensed dental assistants to administer medication.

He did not give them instructions, and let these somewhat untrained helpers determine how much medication to give patients and how frequently to administer it. The drug cabinets at the dental office were left unlocked and unsupervised all day, and W.H. did not keep a log of what drugs were inside the cabin. Many of them were controlled substances, and may have been abused by workers at the dental office. Some of the vials of drugs expired as long as 10 years ago, but were still used and were never removed.

Allegedly, W.H. is guilty of re-using needles which contaminated many of the drugs with harmful bacteria. Also, W.H.'s dental medication records are off, and claim that some drugs were purchased even though they have never been shipped to the dental office. Thankfully, it is rare for both HIV and hepatitis to be transmitted through dental tools. This means that there is a possibility that none of the victims will actually contract an illness.

If you want more information about dental malpractice like this, then you need to discuss your specific situation with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney at Weinstein & Scharf. With the right lawyer there to assist, you may be able to prove that you have been injured and now deserve compensation in the form of a settlement.