A suspended Denver-area oral surgeon may have exposed thousands of his patients to HIV and hepatitis infection after Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials learned he reused needles and syringes.
The department sent out letters to 8,000 of Dr. Stein's patients Friday, urging them to seek tests for disease if they received intravenous (IV) medications, including sedation, under Stein’s care from September 1999 through June 2011.
To date, officials say there have been no specific infections linked to Stein's two office locations in Highlands Ranch or Denver's Cherry Creek area called Stein Oral and Facial Surgery.
Dr. Stein was previously featured in Health and Wellness magazine commending him for "not just highly skilled dental care, but an overall quality experience," as well as being featured in 9News for replacing a hockey player's teeth. According to the article, Dr. Stein began his dental implant practice after a sailing accident as a young dental student caused him to fall and bust his jaw.
"I didn't think I was treated very well. I healed OK, but I thought there's just so much more that goes into it than just treating the injury," Dr. Stein then told the magazine.
The state's department of public health spokeswoman Jan Stapleman said the investigation into Dr. Stein's practice began in April but have told 9News that it took time to investigate the case thoroughly. Dr. Stein was suspended by the Colorado Board of Dental Examiners with an agreement to stop practicing in June 2011, but the department has been unable to locate him.
According to the Denver Post, the board declined to say why they voted to suspend Dr. Stein but that it was for reasons before the infection risk.
Reusing needles and syringes in patients' intravenous lines is in violation of standard medical protocol.
"This practice has been shown to transmit infections," the department said in a statement.
Dr. Stein is also being investigated for prescription fraud.
The state's department of public health is asking for health providers to report any tests positive for HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C to their county health department or the state health department and to specify if the patient was tested as a result of unsafe injection practices at Stein Oral and Facial Surgery. HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are reportable conditions in Colorado, meaning they must be reported to public health authorities.
For more information, the department has asked for people to call the Colorado Help Line at 1-877-462-2911 or visit Colorado Department of Public Health. The department has also created a FAQ page for this case, view the FAQ here.