Colorado Dentist Reused Needles, Putting Thousands at Risk

Patients of the oral surgeon are urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis infection.

A Colorado oral surgeon may have put thousands of patients at risk by resuing needles. (Photo: Thinkstock Images/Getty Images)

Jul 16, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

From Denver comes the news no dental patient wants to hear: an oral surgeon may have put thousands of patients at risk of HIV and hepatitis by reusing syringes and needles.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is attempting to contact 8,000 patients who saw Dr. Stephen Stein at two of his clinics between September 1999 and June 2011.

In that time, according to a department statement, “Syringes and needles were re-used for multiple patients to give intravenous medications, including sedation.” Those instruments were “used repeatedly, often days at a time.”

Since blood can stay in a syringe and needle after an injection, health officials said, that creates a risk of spreading blood-borne illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis if the implements are reused. Those who received IV medications are being urged to get tested for those viruses.

MORE: Can HIV Prevention be Found in a Pill?

According to the Denver Post, state health director Dr. Chris Urbina said that as patients get tested, no infections have been reported yet. Stein’s license to practice medicine was suspended in 2011 due to an unrelated matter that hasn’t been disclosed.

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