• FEATURED:

    Dozens of Ark. dental patients urged to get infectious disease tests

    10:03 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
    • Share
    • Print
    • - A A A +

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas health officials on Tuesday recommended blood tests for 84 young patients of a dentist who sedated them with drugs possibly contaminated with infectious material.

    Screenings for dozens of patients of the now deceased Dr. William Jarrod Stewart will include tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis, state epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow said.

    "We have no reason to believe that anyone is at risk of a particular illness," Haselow said. "We are just notifying people because this situation is highly unusual and we don't know what we don't know."

    Stewart died Feb. 29, 2012, Haselow said. Haselow would not say how Stewart died except to say "he did not die of an infectious cause."

    After Stewart's death, federal officials got involved to take the controlled substances under his license and determined that vials of medicine used in IV sedations appeared to have been tampered with, Haselow said.

    "We don't know how or who potentially tampered with the vials," he said.

    But Haselow said there's no reason to believe the drugs in question "were contaminated at the level of manufacture."

    The transmission of infectious diseases in dental offices is extremely rare, with only three known cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendation for testing was made as a precaution, not because of any known spread of a disease.

    The state Department of Health is reaching out to more than 80 patients who were treated by Stewart at several clinics between Nov. 20, 2011, and Feb. 20, 2012, though Haselow said the number of patients could change.

    The clinics are the Ocean Dental clinics in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock; and Bevans Pediatric Dentistry in Little Rock. However, the Health Department said no patients treated at the Fort Smith clinic had been identified as being at risk.

    Brent Gooden, a spokesman for Stillwater, Okla.-based Ocean Dental, said company officials have been cooperating with the Arkansas Department of Health since they were contacted last week.

    Health officials also said patients of other clinic doctors, or patients who did not receive intravenous sedation, are not believed to be at risk.

    The call for testing in Arkansas comes after Oklahoma health officials have urged 7,000 patients of a Tulsa oral surgeon to have their blood analyzed for signs of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Officials said unsanitary conditions behind Dr. W. Scott Harrington's practice posed a threat to his clients.

    Haselow said the incident in Arkansas was different than what the one in Oklahoma.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Ken Miller contributed to this report from Oklahoma City.

    ___

    Follow Jeannie Nuss at http://twitter.com/jeannienuss

    To obtain additional information, these patients and their families can contact the ADH hotline at 1-800-633-1735 from 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or email the department at IVSedationConcerns@arkansas.gov.
    In addition, patients and their families who wish to contact Ocean Dental with questions about this situation can call Ocean Dental's Compliance Department at 405-707-6139.

    The release from Ocean Dental in its entirety is as follows:

    Arkansas Department of Health representatives currently are contacting 84 patients who received IV (intravenous) sedation drugs from Dr. William Jarrod Stewart, a former employee of Ocean Dental, during dental procedures performed by Dr. Stewart in the period from November 20, 2011 to February 20, 2012. Dr. Stewart treated these patients at clinics located in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. The Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these 74 patients be screened for infectious diseases, and is arranging for screenings to be conducted free of charge at local health department locations.

    Ocean Dental has been fully cooperating with the Arkansas Department of Health since we were contacted last week. Although Ocean Dental is not aware of any information indicating that Dr. Stewart had any infectious disease, and no reports have been received about any of these patients contracting any infectious disease, the Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these patients be tested as a precaution.

    To be clear, no issue has been raised about any other Ocean Dental dentists or employees, or about any other procedures performed or drugs administered at these clinics. This recommendation for screening relates only to procedures performed by Dr. Stewart involving the use of IV (intravenous) sedation. IV sedation typically is used in a limited number of dental procedures. Patients who received only locally applied anesthetic, such as Lidocaine, or nitrous oxide gas during a dental procedure do not need to be concerned. Screening has not been recommended for those patients.

    We recognize that the Arkansas Department of Health's recommendation will raise concerns, and that testing will require these patients to take time away from other activities, so Ocean Dental voluntarily agreed to cover the costs of testing these patients.

    Ocean Dental also is sensitive to guarding the privacy of its patients. The information provided to the Arkansas Department of Health about these patients has been shared with the understanding that patient confidentiality will be preserved. We therefore cannot comment further about any specific patients or disclose information that might publicly identify those patients.
    To obtain additional information, these patients and their families can contact the ADH hotline at 1-800-633-1735 from 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or email the department at
    IVSedationConcerns@arkansas.gov.

    In addition, patients and their families who wish to contact Ocean Dental with questions about this situation can call Ocean Dental's Compliance Department at 405-707-6139.

    We are proud of our history at Ocean Dental of providing quality dental care to patients across Arkansas. We take patient safety very seriously, and we insist on quality procedures and standards. We therefore will continue to work closely with the Arkansas Department of Health to try to resolve any concerns relating to Dr. Stewart's treatment of these patients.

    Most Watched Videos