On May 9, 2019, a Virginia dental malpractice lawsuit was filed in which the parents of a 9-year-old patient allege that they were called by the dental practice where their child had been treated to inform them that the dental instruments used on their child were cleaned but may not have been properly sterilized before the instruments were used on their child. The dental malpractice lawsuit seeks $2.3 million in compensatory damages, alleging that the child had to undergo painful blood work and will require additional blood work over the next year to insure the child did not contract an infection from the unsterilized dental equipment.
The Virginia dental malpractice lawsuit alleges that the child’s mother received a telephone call from an employee of the dental practice ten days after her child received dental services, advising her that at least fifty patients in additional to her child may have been affected by the unsanitized dental instruments. A spokesperson for the dental practice stated, “When we discovered that patients were potentially exposed to dental instruments that had been cleaned but not fully sterilized we promptly notified those patients and took steps to help ensure their health and safety.”
A statement emailed to a television station by a spokesperson for the dental practice read: “”We cannot specifically comment on this matter at this time due to pending litigation and privacy laws. However, Spencer Dental and Kool Smiles have been committed to providing safe and quality dental care to thousands of Virginia families for nearly two decades. The safety of our patients will always be our first priority. When we discovered that patients were potentially exposed to dental instruments that had been cleaned but not fully sterilized we promptly notified those patients and took steps to help ensure their health and safety.”
The CDC recommends the following “Key Recommendations for STERILIZATION AND DISINFECTION OF PATIENT-CARE DEVICES in Dental Settings”:
1. Clean and reprocess (disinfect or sterilize) reusable dental equipment appropriately before use on another patient.
2. Clean and reprocess reusable dental equipment according to manufacturer instructions. If the manufacturer does not provide such instructions, the device may not be suitable for multi-patient use.
a. Have manufacturer instructions for reprocessing reusable dental instruments/equipment readily available, ideally in or near the reprocessing area.
3. Assign responsibilities for reprocessing of dental equipment to DHCP with appropriate training.
4. Wear appropriate PPE when handling and reprocessing contaminated patient equipment.
5. Use mechanical, chemical, and biological monitors according to manufacturer instructions to ensure the effectiveness of the sterilization process. Maintain sterilization records in accordance with state and local regulations.
“Ideally, sterile instruments and supplies should be stored in covered or closed cabinets. Wrapped packages of sterilized instruments should be inspected before opening and use to ensure the packaging material has not been compromised (e.g., wet, torn, punctured) during storage. The contents of any compromised packs should be reprocessed (i.e., cleaned, packaged, and heat-sterilized again) before use on a patient.”
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries (or worse) due to possible dental malpractice in Virginia or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a dental malpractice attorney in Virginia or in your state who may investigate your dental malpractice claim for you and file a dental malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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