July 17, 2012 — Dr. Stephen Stein, a licensed dentist who practiced oral surgery in Colorado, is the subject of a Colorado State Health Department investigation due to accusations that he re-used needles and syringes on multiple patients for the last twelve years. Dr. Stein is also under criminal investigation from the Denver police department. Former patients are advised to get tested for blood diseases.
The Health Department is recommending that anyone who was given an IV injection or sedation at a clinic run by Dr. Stephen Stein from September 1999 and June 2011 should contact the health department about getting a blood test to check for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
There are no confirmed cases of diseases caused by Dr. Stein. The tests take several weeks to be conducted and returned.
An anonymous tip to the Health Department first raised awareness about the problem. Dr. Stein allegedly used needles and syringes to inject medications into his patients’ IV lines, and then re-used the same needles and syringes on other patients’ IV lines. According to the Health Department, this practice is known to transmit diseases and infections.
Dr. Stein has not been practicing dentistry since June 2011. His clinic is also closed.
The Health Department is trying to get the word out to people who might have been injured. Around 8,000 letters have already been sent to former patients. Health Department employees are reviewing Dr. Stein’s medical records in an attempt to get the contact information for all his former patients. Unfortunately, the medical records only go back to 2005, so patients treated before then will not be contacted by letter.
Lawyers for Dr. Stein say that even if a former patient tests positive for a blood disease, there is no way to prove that Dr. Stein was responsible for the disease because it could have been contracted elsewhere.
The Health Department is urging former patients to get tested as soon as possible to begin treatment and prevent transmitting the disease to others.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned doctors about the risks of unsafe injection practices. Two outbreaks of MRSA (antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection) have occurred in clinics where physicians re-used single-dose vials.
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