On September 3, 2013, a class action dental malpractice lawsuit was filed against a Tulsa, Oklahoma dentist, his dental practice, and several pharmaceutical companies by former dental patients who claim that they were exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV due to poor conditions and unsanitary practices at the dentist’s clinic. Five of the seven plaintiffs allege that they contracted infectious diseases as a result of their dental treatment.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health investigated claims against the dentist and his clinic and determined that 77 of the dentist’s former patients tested positive for hepatitis C, five tested positive for hepatitis B, and four had tested positive for HIV. Almost 7,000 of the dentist’s former patients may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis.
Investigators looking into a complaint by a dental patient who tested positive for hepatitis C after dental treatment found conditions at the dental office to be unsanitary and dirty. Employees of the dental practice allegedly re-used vials of Propofol during dental procedures for different patients, thereby exposing them to infectious pathogens. The pharmaceutical manufacturers of the drug were named in the class action lawsuit as defendants because they continued to manufacture and promote the multi-use vials of Propofol despite allegedly being advised that the vials were being reused and thereby exposing patients to the spread of infectious diseases.
The 64-year-old oral surgeon had been in practice for over 35 years. Investigators alleged that his dental assistants were permitted to perform procedures that they should only have assisted with and that some employees were allowed to perform intravenous sedation of patients for which they were unauthorized and unlicensed to perform. Alleged violations also included multiple sterilization issues, multiple cross-contamination issues, and allowing the clinic’s drug cabinet to be unlocked and unattended. The dentist was formally accused of 17 violations that included being a menace to the public health.
The Executive Director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry stated after visiting the dentist’s clinic as part of the investigation, “I will tell you that when … we left, we were just physically kind of sick. I mean, that’s how bad (it was), and I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff over the years.”
Dental negligence can result in serious disability, both physically and emotionally, for patients who acquire infectious diseases as a result of unsanitary or substandard dental procedures, suffer the loss of teeth or injuries to the jaw as a result of dental malpractice, or sustain other dental harms as a result of dental mistakes.
If you, a family member, a loved one, or someone you know may have suffered serious injuries or other significant harms as a result of dental malpractice in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local dental malpractice attorney (medical malpractice attorney) in your state regarding your rights and responsibilities in bringing a dental malpractice claim.
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