How did a single dentist in Wisconsin put almost 600 veterans at risk for HIV and Hepatitis?
Visiting the dentist is not normally considered a risky venture, but tell that to the 592 veterans who may have been infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C when they were treated by a careless dentist at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Tomah, Wisconsin. The Medical Center Director, Victoria Brahm, reports that the dentist in question was using his own equipment for routine dental exams instead of the disposable supplies provided by the facility. Though the dentist cleaned his equipment between exams, VA rules were being violated since they require that their dentists use their disposable equipment to ensure sterility.
Unfortunately, this story is not as uncommon as you might think. If you have been the victim of dental malpractice, you should contact a competent malpractice attorney who is skilled in this particular area. This will help ensure that you recover fair compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
There is no way the accused dentist in this particular case can argue that he was unaware of the VA regulations since he appropriately used only VA equipment during his orientation. According to Brahm, the doctor, who has not yet been identified due to federal employee protections, knew he was violating policy and did so anyway because he preferred using his own equipment. He worked at the facility between October 2015 and October 2016, but was kept from administering patient care once his actions were uncovered. He has now gone before a review board and resigned his position.
How the Facility Responded
Although no active infections have been found thus far, “out of an abundance of caution” all 592 veterans treated by this dentist have been tested and offered free medical care if they develop an infection due to this exposure.
Not the First Problem at the Tomah Facility
The center has come under scrutiny before. There have been a number of scandals involving patient deaths due to inappropriate care at the facility; there have also been apparent wrongful deaths of veterans whose loved ones claim the VA refused to treat them. In addition, the Tomah center has been nicknamed “Candy Land” because of its lax over-prescription of opioid medications. In 2014, a former U.S. Marine died at 35 years of age after taking a mixture of medications prescribed by Tomah’s doctors.