Denver-area dentist may have put patients at risk of contracting HIV

Injections are one of many ways to administer ...
Injections are one of many ways to administer psychiatric medication. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people hate going to the dentist due to pain or concerns about metal scraping in their mouths, but former patients of Dr. Stephen Stein may have much more to worry about.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent out 8,000 letters to Stein’s former patients warning them to get tested for HIV and hepatitis.

It was determined syringes and needles used to inject medications through patients’ IV lines were saved and used again to inject medications through other patients’ IV lines,  the health department said.

Anyone who was a patient of Stien in Highlands Ranch or Denver since 1999 should get tested, however, according to Fox31 because most of the records dating back that far are incomplete.

Stein stopped practicing medicine in June of 2011 per an agreement with the dental board, but the details of that agreement are not public because the investigation is ongoing.

9news:

 The 2011 case is different than the dirty needles case it learned about in April and made public Thursday.

According to 9health reporter Dr. John Torres, the risk of anyone contracting diseases from the needle method is low, but the risk still exists.

There are 16 billion injections administered each year, according to the World Health Organization.  Of those injections,

up to 40% of injections are given with syringes and needles reused without sterilization and in some countries this proportion is as high as 70%.

so this is not an unheard of practice, but still a dangerous one. Unsafe injection practices cause

  • 33 percent of new hepatitis B infections
  • 42 percent of new hepatitis C cases
  • two percent of new HIV cases