Even under the best conditions, going to the dentist can be nerve-wracking. When lying back in the dentist’s chair, you cannot see much of what is going on around you except for the dentist and assistant leaning over you putting things into your mouth. Patients have to trust that the dentist has followed proper sterilization and cleaning procedures.
A dentist in Colorado was accused of reusing needles on patients and thousands of patients had to be notified of possible hepatitis C infection or other contamination. Further investigations found suspicion of prescription drug fraud.
Reusing Needles on Dental Patients
Doctor Stephen Milton Stein was a dentist and maxillofacial surgeon in Denver. Following an investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Stein was accused of reusing needles for dental procedures on multiple patients.
According to the health department, Stein may have been reusing needles between 1999 and 2011 for various dental and oral surgery procedures, including IV medications for anesthesia. Patients exposed to the contaminated needles could have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or other bloodborne diseases.
At least 3 people were linked to possible infections under Stein’s care. The health department sent out letters to 8,000 former patients, urging them to get tested for the bloodborne diseases. After further testing, at least 6 patients had tested positive for hepatitis or HIV.
Stein entered into a stipulation agreement to voluntarily surrender his license to practice dentistry in the state. However, he later appeared to be advising a company that specialized in medical tourism, where customers would go to different countries for medical treatment, including dental procedures.
Dental Board Investigation and License Suspension
The Colorado Board of Dental Examiners’ investigation found a number of problems with Stein’s practices. The board initially received an anonymous complaint that Stein was misusing controlled substances and had a history of substance abuse.
Stein had sought treatment for chemical dependency back in 1998. After the complaint, Stein was apparently abusing controlled substances, including Vicoprofen and Vicodin. In his practice, Stein failed to properly maintain inventory and a record of controlled substances.
The board alleged Stein would write prescriptions for patients and ask the patients to bring the drugs in before their procedures, where he would take some of their drugs. In one case, the board alleged Stein picked up a prescription under a patient’s name for his own use.
Criminal Charges for Former Dentist
Criminal charges for prescription fraud or assault were never filed. However, not long after giving up his license to practice dentistry in Colorado, Stein was arrested in Nevada for driving under the influence of cocaine near Lake Tahoe.
Dental Malpractice Injuries
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a visit to the dentist, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to help you recover compensation for your injuries. If you have questions about a negligent medical procedure that caused an injury, contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.
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