Tuesday the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that a dentist in their practice had not sterilized equipment, and due to that had put 600 patients at the Tomah hospital at risk for HIV or hepatitis. There have been no reports of infections since October 20 when it was reported to the VA.
The VA is now offering to provide free screening and treatment to anyone who feels they may be at risk due to their dentist’s negligence.
The VA discovered in October that a dentist that had been hired in October of 2015 had been using his used drill bits without sterilizing them. The typical policy at the VA is to not use the same drill bit more than once, according to the La Cross Tribune.
“He brought in his own [dental] burs and cleaned them with Virex solution, salt, and a wipe which is nothing we endorse,” Victoria Brahm, the center’s acting director, said at a press conference.
The President-elect of Wisconsin’s Dental Association, Dr. David Clemens told WKBT, “When I first started doing dentistry in 1989, that was considered acceptable.” Continuing, he explained that dentistry policies have since been revised, and it is now required to sterilize all tools.
The only reason that the VA realized what the dentist was doing, was because the dentist’s assistant was replaced with another. She reported the matter to the dental chief. Within one day, the dentist was removed, while the licensing board reviewed the case for the potential of criminal charges.
While they investigate further, the VA has begun reaching out to the 592 people who were seen by the doctor during the time he worked at the VA. Thus far, only 54 of the patients had received procedures in which dental burs were used. With that being said, the VA is attempting to be transparent and diligent in making sure that all grounds are covered by “taking extreme measures.” according to Bahm.