A dentist at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wisconsin failed to use VA regulated dental equipment and exposed close to 600 patients to HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

The mishandling of the equipment was reported by a substitute assistant, which begs the question whether or not his regular assistant or assistants were aware of his infractions.

The VA has offered all patients who were seen by the dentist a free blood test to confirm if they have acquired any diseases. It will take up to three weeks to receive the results. The VA will also give any infected patients free follow-up care.

Victoria Brahm, medical director at the Tomah VA Medical Center stated that she feels the unnamed dentist’s actions were deliberate:

“It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations.

During all of the orientation, he used 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.”

The VA, however, did not move to fire the dentist, a decision which was met with shock and outrage. Instead, he was “moved” to an administrative role so that his risk of infecting patients would be lowered.

Evidently, the VA claims they were holding him at his job so they could continue with disciplinary action. But the unnamed dentist quit his job just days before his scheduled hearing was to take place.

Brahm stated:

“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.”

The dentist, who is unnamed due to federal protections, was hired in October 2015. During his tenure, he saw 592 patients. Only 54 of them were exposed to the tools he failed to sterilize in a way that would cause infection, however the VA is adamant that every one of his former patients receives follow up care.

It is unclear if this will result in a loss of licensure, or possibly jail time.

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