A dentist in New Jersey faces suspension after his practice was linked to over a dozen infections that led to one death and caused patients to seek follow-up heart surgeries.
John Vecchione agreed to have his practice suspended this week until a hearing in early October, Fox News reports.
The Department of Health released a report last month stating that 15 patients had developed enterococcal endocarditis after Vecchione conducted oral surgery on them using intravenous sedation from December 2012 to August 2014.
Twelve of Vecchione’s patients needed heart surgery, and one died from health complications.
Inspectors visited Vecchione’s practice in late 2014 and early 2015, and Vecchione agreed to improve his practice. However, inspectors who visited the clinic in Budd Lake, Morris County last month reported that there were no developments.
The interim consent order said, “The deficiencies still present in Respondent’s practice after multiple prior inspections and the issuance of a Department of Health report demonstrates a lack of judgment and insight into the affect that breaches can have on the safety of the treatment environment.”
According to the order, Vecchione argued that he had made all efforts to fix the problems and “denies any and all allegations of wrongdoing.” Vecchione’s lawyer did not comment.
An investigation was launched into Vecchione’s practice in 2014 when an infectious-disease specialist in a hospital in the area noticed that two of their heart patients had a history of oral surgery at Vecchione’s clinic.
Inspectors looking into the clinic found “multiple safety breaches” such as the use of single medication vials for many patients, poor storage and use of unwrapped syringes, inadequate hand hygiene and using unsterile items such as multiple-use alcohol dispensers, the Health Department report stated.
Enterococcal endocarditis after oral surgery is incredibly rare — just 1.5 cases for every 100,000 patients per year. Vecchione’s patients in 2013 and 2014 were over 250 times more likely to contract the infection, the report adds.