Implications of Violating ADA Sterilization Standards in Dental Practice

This case study examines a dentist's alleged violation of ADA sterilization standards, potentially exposing patients to infectious diseases.

ByExpert Institute

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Published on February 20, 2024

Dentist grabbing dental tools

Case Overview

This case study delves into a serious allegation against a dentist who reportedly violated numerous American Dental Association (ADA) standards between 2016 and 2018. The primary concern was the dentist’s alleged failure to properly sterilize dental equipment between patients, as reported by a whistleblower.

This negligence led the dental office to send letters to hundreds of patients, advising them to undergo testing for HIV, Hepatitis, and other diseases potentially transmitted through unsterilized equipment. The plaintiff alleges that this breach of sterilization protocols exposed many patients to significant health risks.

Questions to the expert and their responses

Q1

Can you describe your professional background in dental public health, specifically dental standards for sterilizing equipment?

I am a licensed dentist with over four decades’ experience. I spent 38 years practicing at a large clinic affiliated with a renowned university in Kentucky. I oversaw disinfection and sterilization procedures for dental instruments and equipment for 22 years.

Q2

What are some of the risks associated with dental equipment that has not been properly sterilized?

The risks associated with improper or inadequate sterilization and disinfection are significant. They include transmitting infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis to both patients and dental healthcare workers.

Q3

What are the ADA and/or CDC regulations for mitigating disease spread via dental equipment?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and ADA have established clear standards for disinfection and sterilization designed to minimize infection transmission in dentistry practice.

These standards mandate sterilizing all possible instruments after each use, disinfecting all surfaces that come into contact with potentially infectious materials between patient visits using hospital-grade disinfectants, and ensuring dental healthcare providers use appropriate personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, and gowns when treating patients.

About the expert

This expert is a seasoned professional in general dentistry with over 40 years of experience, including significant roles in academia and hospital settings. They have held positions as a professor of public health, oral health, preventative medicine, and environmental health at a renowned university's College of Dentistry, where they also served as the director of the general practice residency program and clinic director. Currently, this expert practices dentistry privately while holding an emeritus professorship at a university in Kentucky, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to dental education and practice.

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