Thousands of Colorado residents could be at risk of HIV or hepatitis after a local dentist was found to have been reusing dirty sedation syringes on patients for nearly 12 years.
State health officials are warning patients of Dr Stephen Stein to get tested after a probe revealed the rogue dentist used the same syringes and needles for multiple patients to give intravenous medications, including sedation, between September 1999 and June 2011.
'Needles and syringes were used repeatedly, often days at a time,' a fact sheet on the state's website explains.
Bad dentist: Dr Stephen Stein, pictured, reused sedation syringes on patients for nearly 12 years
'Because there can be a small amount of blood that remains in syringes and needles after an injection through an IV line, there is a risk of spread of bloodborne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, between patients.'
Dr Stein hasn't worked since June 2011, although his website gives no indication the dentist is no longer practicing.
For more than two decades, Dr Stein worked out of Stein Oral and Facial Surgery at South Quebec Street, Highlands Ranch.
Between August 2010 and June 2011, the dentist also worked at a surgery known by the same name or, to some, as New Image Dental Implant Center, located at East 1st Avenue, Denver.
Celebrate: Dr Stein, pictured centre celebrating the opening of his Cherry Creek surgery in 2011, potentially infected patients with HIV or hepatitis
Another surgeon, Dr Jeremy Miner, has taken over the Highlands Ranch office.
The state is contacting at least 8,000 at-risk patients they have identified through dental records, advising them to get checked for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and also appealing to the public in a bid to reach those they have no addresses for.
Infected: At least 8,000 patients could be at risk of HIV or hepatitis because of Dr Stein's 'mind-blowing' blunder
Dr Stein's patients who got only local, oral anesthetic shots are not believed to be at risk of the potentially deadly viruses and no infections have been reported so far.
Hollynd Hoskins, a Denver attorney who represented victims who were infected with Hepatitis C at Rose Medical Center in 2009, told the Denver Post that Dr Stein's alleged reuse of syringes and needles was 'mind-blowing and indicates an utter disregard of the known consequences of spreading life-threatening diseases.'
Colorado public health director Dr Chris Urbina added: 'This is a very unusual case, and that's why we're taking this so seriously.'
Patients who don't know whether they received IV medication should get tested anyway and those who were treated by Dr Stein prior to 1999 should if they are concerned, but the state doesn't know whether syringes were being reused back then.
Those who are sure they didn't get an IV don't need to be tested.
Surgery: Patients who had an IV at Dr Stein's East 1st Avenue, Denver, office, pictured, or at Highlands Ranch are being asked to get tested
The Dental Examiners' Board forced Dr Stein to stop practicing on June 24, 2011, although the ruling was unrelated to his potentially infecting thousands of patients with bloodbourne viruses, according to the Denver Post.
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, which overseas medical licenses, refused to disclose the nature of the complaint that prompted its investigation, and by chance brought the unsafe syringe use to light.
'When public safety became an issue, we immediately jumped on it,' spokesman Maulid Miskell told the newspaper.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2173095/Thousands-patients-risk-HIV-dodgy-Denver-dentist-REUSED-syringes-12-years.html#ixzz20WQD1Ede