Recently an oral surgeon in Colorado was found to be using unclean needles on his patients. Hearing this story made me frantically start thinking back to every dentist chair I have ever sat in.
Had they followed all the sanitary measures I apparently took for granted from a doctors office?
I also immediately thought of the 8,000 patients that had been sent letters to inform them of Dr. Stephen Stein’s ill practices. What must be going through their minds? I’m guessing something like fear, anger and surprise.
Apparently, this oral surgeon had been re-using needles on patients since late 1999. Let me do the math for you, that is the past 12 years! Having worked in the dental field for 10 years, I was shocked as I read this story for several reasons.
- I have seen what oral surgeons charge for their work and let’s just say, they can afford to purchase syringes.
- I Googled to find out the cost of needles and syringes. Basically, I found that it is approx. $40 a box for 100 needles and the same for syringes.
- The doctors I worked for were over the top when it came to sanitation. I assumed it was the same for all.
The really surprising part to me was that he worked in upscale communities like Highlands Ranch and Cherry Creek. These are not places that you would expect to find a doctor of any kind performing such an act. Of course, I am beginning to realize that things can happen anywhere regardless of where you live.
As of the latest story I read, three patients out of those tested, have been infected with either Hepatitis or HIV. This may not seem like a lot, but to those three, it means everything.
So how are you best able to protect yourself from something like this happening? There is really no definite way, but here are a few tips on finding a reputable oral surgeon in your area.
- Research them even if you were referred by your dentist. (As this is often the case w/oral surgeons)
- Check with the BBB. While not all dentists/oral surgeons have accredited businesses through the BBB, some do. It is worth the time to look.
- Search online for actual customer reviews of the particular oral surgeon.
- Ask family and friends who they have had experience with.
- For any procedure watch for the Dr. or assistant to remove the instruments from a clean, unopened package.
- Most of all, trust yourself! If you have any concerns, don’t be afraid to ask. It should not be offensive to anyone if you have questions.
What do you think? Does this story scare you at all? What advice can you offer to those looking for a good oral surgeon?