Child Sickened in Outbreak May Need Artificial Jaw, Attorney Says


Health officials now put the number of children potentially sickened by the outbreak at 77. Seven remain hospitalized. A total of 800 children may have been exposed.

A child who became ill after receiving treatment at an Anaheim, CA dental clinic that was using contaminated water may require an artificial jawbone, the child’s attorney said.

The Orange County Register broke the news on Monday about the Children’s Dental Group, where a Mycobacterial abscessus infection sickened dozens of children. An area hospital now puts the number of confirmed or probable cases at 77, the Register reports.

The attorney, Alexander Napolin, is representing two-dozen children who became sick after undergoing procedures such as pulpotomies. Seven children with dental infections, the Register reports, remain hospitalized. The news outlet estimates that nearly 800 children may have been exposed in the outbreak.

One child dealing with the repercussions of the infection may “lose his jaw bone and have an artificial jaw for the rest of his life,” the Register writes. This bone would require replacement as the child grows.

Napolin, the attorney at the head of the class-action suit, was seeking patient records from the practice, which were turned over on Monday. He suspects his clients may have been victims of over-treatment. The Register quotes him as saying, “This goes on all across the country, this kind of scheme. … They’re maiming children.”

Sam Gruenbaum, CEO of Children’s Dental Group, was also quoted in the Register as saying treatment is ”based on examinations by the doctors and consultation and cooperation with the patient’s guardian.”

As previously reported by Dentist’s Money Digest, M. abscessus bacterium are typically found in dust, water, and soil, and are a common contaminator of medical devices. The bacteria can cause abscesses and infections of the skin, soft oral tissue, and bone. Infections typically require long courses of antibiotics to clear. The dental clinic was cleared to resume operations a week ago after it took steps satisfactory to the Orange County Health Care Agency to remediate the contamination.

Dentist’s Money Digest contributor Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN, contributed to this report.

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