Dentist Office May Have Exposed Patients to HIV, Hepatitis

Pennsylvania health department recommends that patients be screened for HIV, and hepatitis B and C viruses.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is currently recommending that patients who received dental care at the Center for Family and Specialty Dentistry in Berks County receive testing for various, potentially life-threatening infections.

The Department of Health revealed that the dental facility was not following proper infection control procedures, and may have exposed patients to numerous viruses and bacterium.

They are now recommending that patients who visited the facility between December 19, 2015 and October 19, 2016 undergo testing for hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“While we haven’t received reports of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV from patients, infection control procedures at this practice were inadequate and created the potential for harm, so we’re recommending patients get tested,” said Health Secretary Karen Murphy, RN, PhD. “We prefer that patients receive information regarding their health directly from their provider. However, in this case, that did not happen, so we’ve contacted patients of this practice directly.”

The department is recommending patients be tested for the viruses if they had cleanings, fillings, implants, denture fittings, and other dental procedures performed at the office.

Findings from an investigation conducted by the Health and State Departments found that this particular facility did not follow proper protocol for cleaning, disinfecting, or sterilizing devices, according to the press release. This could have exposed patients to a host of harmful diseases and infections.

As a result, the department issued a cease and desist letter to the practice to immediately stop patient care, along with several recommendations to improve patient safety. No patients should have received care after the letter was delivered on October 21, 2016, and the practice remains closed until all concerns regarding patient safety and sterility are resolved, the department reported.

“Infection control is an essential step in patient safety that cannot be overlooked,” said Secretary of State Pedro Cortés. “It’s important to talk to your dentist about infection control and what they are doing to protect you while under their care.”

The Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry suspended the dental licenses of Stephen Sulzbach, DMD, Jana Osomlinski, DDS, and Eric Osmolinski, DMD, who practiced at the facility. The suspension was based on the grounds that their practice may have caused an immediate danger to public health and safety, according to the press release.

The suspensions are temporary, and will remain in effect until further steps are taken by the board.

HBV, HCV, and HIV are all serious infections that require swift treatment to prevent long-term adverse health effects. It is important for patients who received treatment at this facility undergo the proper testing, and initiate treatment if an infection is confirmed.