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Dentist Who Might Have Infected Over 500 Patients Resigns From VA Medical Center

Photo from Tomah VA website

A dentist at the embattled Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wisconsin has resigned after potential involvement in infecting close to 600 veterans, authorities confirmed.

Prior to the announcement, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson, both Republicans from Wisconsin, expressed their outrage that the dentist, who has not been named, was still working at the hospital, USA Today reports.

Victoria Brahm, acting medical director for the center, announced on Tuesday that the VA was currently notifying 592 veterans who had been the dentist’s patients that they may have hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, because the dentist did not follow standard sterilization procedures.

Brahm added that the officials at the VA received the resignation letter just one day before a Summary Review Board was to be held, wherein firing decisions are usually made. Brahm said in a statement, “Although we cannot prevent the dentist from resigning while administrative actions are pending, we are continuing reporting procedures to the State Licensing Board and the National Practitioner Data Bank.” She added,

We will not stop doing all we can to ensure those responsible for this serious breach of patient trust are held accountable.

Earlier, Brahm said that the dentists had been using his personal equipment to treat patients, then cleaning and reusing them. This is a violation of the VA’s rules that warrant the use of sterile and disposable equipment. Authorities were alerted to the situation when a substitute dental assistant noticed that the dentist was cleaning his own equipment to reuse, and reported the breach.

The dentist had apparently been using the improperly sterilized equipment, and violating regulations, from October 2015 to October 2016, during which he treated the 592 patients involved.

“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations,” Brahm said. “During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure.”

The VA has offered free screening to all those who might have been exposed to infection, and are also willing to provide free treatment for anyone who tests positive, The Blaze reports.

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