Department reports three positive lab tests resulting from unsafe dental practice patient notification
Following notification of past patients of Dr. Stephen Stein of a possible risk of exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C – if they received intravenous (IV) medications – the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified three people who tested positive for one of these infections. This does not mean any of these positive results are linked to Dr. Stein’s dental practice. The time frame (patients were seen from 1999-2011) and potential for infections from other sources means it cannot be determined whether the virus was due to the unsafe injection practices in Dr. Stein’s offices. The department will update numbers the first of each month.
To protect patient confidentiality, numbers are grouped and do not distinguish between hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
No supplemental testing of positive cases will be conducted by the department outside of follow-up that would occur during the department’s standard ongoing surveillance of cases. The CDC and department confirmed it would be difficult if not impossible to conclude definitively whether the dental practice was the actual source of transmission for any of these positive test results.
Normal surveillance varies for infection with HIV and infection with hepatitis. For HIV, a discussion between the department’s surveillance staff and the health care provider who performed the test will occur. A disease intervention specialist will interview individuals with confirmed cases for the purposes of health education, linkage to health care and partner notification. With hepatitis cases, normal follow-up may include collection of demographic, behavioral, health care and other risk information with the aim of characterizing infections in Colorado.
Dr. Stein entered into an Interim Cessation of Practice Agreement with the Colorado State Board of Dental Examiners at the Department of Regulatory Agencies on June 24, 2011, and currently is not practicing.
The purpose of the department’s investigation was to confirm the use of unsafe injection practices, ensure these practices are not continuing and inform patients of the need to get tested – and, if positive, to check with their health care provider for care.
The department will not know the number of people who get tested, only the number of positive tests that are reported. In circumstances when a large number of people get tested for these viruses, the department would expect some positive tests to be reported.