Infection control lapse leads to Hep C

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In another reminder of the importance of following proper infection control procedures, a US dentist appears to have infected nine patients with hepatitis after failing to change his gloves or properly sterilise instruments between procedures.

At least nine dental patients at the Dayton, Ohio, veterans hospital have tested positive for hepatitis, the Veterans Administration says. The hospital has contacted 527 of 535 veterans seen by dentist Dwight Pemberton. Of the 375 patients tested preliminarily so far, seven were found positive for hepatitis C and two for hepatitis B.

None of the veterans had previously been diagnosed with hepatitis, and further testing will be needed to confirm, said Dr. Andrea Buck, the VA’s national director of medicine. It may never be known if the infections were contracted at the Dayton VA dental clinic, she said. Epidemiological tests will take months.

Administrative actions were begun against Dr Pemberton, and two other staff. But Pemberton, who could have infected patients from 1992 through July 2010, retired Feb. 11 at age 81, so he no longer faces disciplinary action.

A spokesperson for the hospital apologised to veterans and pledged the VA will provide free screenings and care to any who may have been exposed.

 

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