8 infection control errors dentists made in 2020

Dentists have established infection control as a central pillar of their profession. However, some dentists lose sight of the importance of sterilization and strong infection control practices.

Below is a roundup of eight infection control errors Becker's Dental Review reported on in 2020.

  1. Five patients filed complaints against North Carolina dentist Richard Rolle, DDS, saying they received reckless treatment that resulted in pain and infection. A dental tool Dr. Rolle used was found embedded in one patient's gum.

  2. New Jersey oral surgeon John Vecchione, DDS, 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.

  3. The Vermont Board of Dental Examiners revoked the license of William McDonald, DMD, for using improperly sterilized instruments and a history of unprofessional conduct. The board determined that he "failed to practice competently and performed unacceptable patient care" by not heat-sanitizing handpieces after each patient, a violation of CDC guidelines.

  4. Patients of the Galveston County (Texas) Health District who visited the public health clinic for dental procedures claim they contracted HIV and hepatitis C after their visits. A lawsuit filed against Galveston County Health District alleges poor and negligent care, claiming that poor sanitation and sterilization procedures caused them to contract the diseases.

  5. Attorneys asked a judge to dismiss a $50 million proposed class-action lawsuit against Knoxville, Tenn.-based Clarence "Buzz" Nabers, DDS, who allegedly exposed thousands of patients to infectious diseases. Last year, a state investigation found Dr. Nabers and his staff improperly sterilized dental equipment at his two offices.

  6. More than a dozen dental faculty members and residents at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry claimed the school failed to implement several COVID-19 safety practices. They said the school didn't provide N95 respirators for all procedures, and when they did, the masks were expired.

  7. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Georgetown (Mass.) Dental for seven safety measure violations, including failing to provide medical evaluations and fit testing for employees required to wear N95 respirators.

  8. Richard Byrd, DDS, was ordered to pay $5,000 to the Virginia Board of Dentistry after it found he "failed to maintain a safe and sanitary practice." The board found bacteria in office water samples that exceeded EPA and CDC drinking water standards.

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