New Jersey dentist suspended after 15 patient infections, 1 death tied to practice

A New Jersey oral surgeon has agreed to a five-year suspension after being tied to 15 bacterial heart infections since 2013, including a case that resulted in a patient dying from surgery complications, according to NBC's flagship station WNBC.

John Vecchione, DDS, agreed Feb. 3 to the suspension and $293,500 in penalty fees after initially fighting allegations.

A two-year investigation by the state health department and dentistry board into Dr. Vecchione's two outpatient surgery clinics began after a patient was diagnosed with endocarditis, a heart infection, five weeks after having two wisdom teeth pulled. A physician treating the patient had previously treated a similar case and alerted the state.

The investigation found Dr. Vecchione engaged in "professional misconduct and gross negligence" by failing to follow infection control standards, according to WNBC. The state claimed the dentist did not properly prepare instruments, use sterile water or sterile saline during procedures, or properly handle and store single-dose medication vials.

The suspension is retroactive to August 2016, and Dr. Vecchione could begin a one-year probation period as early as Aug. 31, 2020, if he complies with the consent order and demonstrates competency.

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