600 dental patients suspected to be exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and C

05 December 2016

Nearly 600 patients who received dental care at a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center might have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and C and now faced the possibility of being infected.

Earlier this week, officials said a dentist at the Tomah VA Medical Center improperly re-used his own dental equipment rather than using the sterilised, disposable tools as required under VA rules.

''It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,'' said Victoria Brahm, acting medical director at the Tomah VA Center in a press briefing earlier this week.

''During all of the orientation, he used our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.''

The breach in protocol came to the notice of a fill-in assistant who reported the issue, according to CNN affiliate WEAU.

The dentist, who had not been identified, faces  a review board Monday under administrative proceedings, according to Matthew Gowan, a spokesman for the Tomah VA.

The dentist had been hired at the facility in October 2015 and saw 592 patients there. His patients were notified this week that they might have been exposed.

The VA had offered them free testing and follow-up care. The blood test results would take about two to three weeks, WEAU reported.

Meanwhile, the dentist had resigned Breitbart News reported citing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

''Although we cannot prevent the dentist from resigning while administrative actions are pending, we are continuing reporting procedures to the state licensing board and the National Practitioner Data Bank,''  Brahm said. ''We will not stop doing all we can to ensure those responsible for this serious breach of patient trust are held accountable.''

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