Readers in North Carolina may have heard about a recent health scare that may affect as many as 7,000 people. In another state, those who were treated by a long-time oral surgeon could have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis as a result of the doctor's office failing to abide by standard safety practices.
Reports indicate that the surgeon, who had been in practice for 36 years, and his staff used rusty tools, improperly reused drug vials and failed to use a sterilization machine correctly. Patients under this doctor's care have been sent letters and are advised to be tested for the viral infections. As of April 1, only 1,000 of the 7,000 potentially impacted patients had been tested.
Thankfully, health officials have said they are equipped to handle thousands of blood tests in one day, so there shouldn't be any concern about being unable to test all of the patients who may be infected. The reality is that both diseases can have serious consequences, so those who were patients several years ago could have been carrying the disease for quite some time without knowing it.
This is not the oral surgeon's first encounter with professional scrutiny. Already, he has been the subject of two medical malpractice suits. Even though both cases were settled 15 or more years ago, the doctor was practicing medicine until this year. As of yet, there is no word as to whether or not patients will pursue compensation for the careless mistakes.
In addition to potential civil claims, the doctor and his staff could face criminal charges. Public safety officials believe that the immense reach of these medical errors could amount to criminal action.
Source: Associated Press, "Okla. board pushes for charges against dentist," Justin Juozapavicius, April 1, 2013
- Our firm has helped North Carolina residents understand their rights after being affected by a doctor's error. To find out more, please see our Raleigh medical malpractice page.