Dentist Resigns After Possibly Infecting 592 Veterans with HIV, Hepatitis

December 5, 2016
Joe Hannan

The dentist failed to follow proper sterilization procedures and protocols, reports say, putting hundreds of veterans at risk.

An embattled dentist who may have infected 592 veterans with HIV and hepatitis B and C after failing to maintain proper sterilization techniques has resigned.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the news on Friday that the unnamed WI-based dentist has stepped down as the furor over the possible infections has spread. The dentist had been treating patients at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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The fact that the dentist continued to be employed—albeit in an administrative positon—prior to Friday, drew the ire of House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday. Ryan, a Republican, called his job status “stunning show of bureaucratic impunity,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

That sentiment was echoed by Sen. Ron Johnson, another Wisconsin Republican.

“The individual in question has not been fired … this demonstrates once and for all that the VA needs a complete overhaul so that our veterans finally get the care—and respect—they deserve,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted him as saying.

According to the news outlet, Victoria Braham, acting medical director at the veterans medical center, said on Tuesday that the VA was reaching out to all of the potentially affected patients to inform them of the situation. Braham announced on Friday that the dentist had resigned. He was due to appear before an administrative panel for review today.

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“Although we cannot prevent the dentist from resigning while administrative actions are pending, we are continuing reporting procedures to the State Licensing Board and the National Practitioner Data Bank,” Brahm said in a statement. "We will not stop doing all we can to ensure those responsible for this serious breach of patient trust are held accountable."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported earlier last week that the dentist had been using, cleaning, and reusing his own equipment, which was a clear violation of the VA’s policy that requires sterile and disposable tools for patients.

"It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations," Brahm said at news conference.

"During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure."

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