Health Dept. Issues HIV Warning About Colorado Dentist

Patients Of Dr. Stephen Stein Advised To Get Tested For HIV, Hepatitis, Due To Unsafe Injection Practices

Patients of a Highlands Ranch and Cherry Creek dentist were advised Thursday to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C.

CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia began asking questions of the state health department early Thursday and the department made its investigation public Thursday afternoon.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued the advisory urging anyone who was a patient of Dr. Stephen Stein, who practiced oral surgery at his practice in Highlands Ranch and Cherry Creek, may have been exposed if they received intravenous medications, including sedation, under Stein’s care between September 1999 through June 2011.

The health department said patients may be at risk if they were seen by Stein during the 12-year period and at these locations:

- September 1999 to June 2011 at Stein Oral and Facial Surgery, 8671 S. Quebec St., #230, Highlands Ranch, Colo. 80130

- August 2010 to June 2011 at Stein Oral and Facial Surgery, 3737 E.1st Ave., Suite B, Denver, Colo., 80206. Patients were also seen at this location by Stein under another name, New Image Dental Implant Center.

The health department said there have been no specific infections linked to these offices, so far.

Investigation Found That Injection Needles Were Reused

The department began its investigation following a report of unsafe injection practices. Upon investigation, it was determined syringes and needles used to inject medications through patients’ IV lines were saved and used again to inject medications through other patients’ IV lines. This practice has been shown to transmit infections.

The investigation continues. State health officials are working with health officials at Tri-County Health Department and Denver Public Health due to the locations of Stein’s practices in those counties.

Practice Closed, Stein Not Practicing

Stein Oral and Facial Surgery is closed. 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.

In the original action from 2011, the state found “the public health, safety or welfare imperatively requires emergency action.” Because of privacy issues, the state won’t release details about the complaint to Call7.

Maulid Miskell, DORA Program Director, says that the agency continued to investigate Stein’s practice. In April 2012, the agency notified Colorado Public Health about the Stein possibly reusing needles on patients.

"It’s related but unrelated. It’s hard to talk about. I can’t go into detail, but the information provided to them, as soon as we found out about that information, it was timely reported to them," Miskell said.

Under this agreement, Stein can hold a dentistry license, but he cannot practice because no final action has been taken in the 2011 complaint.

The Highlands Ranch office was purchased by another oral surgeon in September 2011. State health officials have determined that the reuse of needles and syringes on multiple patients in Dr. Stein’s offices did not continue past June 2011.

8,000 Letters Sent Out To Former Patients

CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia reported that 8,000 letters have been sent out to former patients of Dr. Stein. The letters should be received within the next few days, the health department said.

However, records may be incomplete, so any patients who remember receiving IV medications, including sedation, at one of Stein’s offices between the dates listed contact their health care provider to be tested as a precaution.

Patients who are uncertain if they received IV medications should also be tested.

Patients who did not receive IV medications do not need to be tested. Members of the public can call 1-877-462-2911 or visit http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/ for more information.

People infected with viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C may not have symptoms for many years, so it is possible patients might have been infected and not know it. Even though patients who may have been exposed may not feel ill or remember getting sick, they should get tested. Although testing cannot determine where or how someone was infected (at Stein’s offices or from another exposure), it is important to know so treatment can begin.

Health providers who test Stein’s former patients are being asked 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 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.

Former Patient "Angry," Felt "Instant Denial"

Shannon Stamey saw Stein for a dental implant in 2008. She found out about the potential health scare when she read it first on the 7NEWS Facebook page.

"I got on Facebook and saw on 7NEWS that Dr. Stephen Stein's patients should be tested for HIV and Hepatitis," said Stamey. "I immediately, actually, began shaking. I was with my young son. I talked with my husband on the phone. But definitely, instant denial."

Stamey has a weakened immune system and because she receives blood transfusions every three weeks, she already gets tested for HIV and Hepatitis.

"They just tested me in May and said I'm in the clear, most likely, because this was four years ago," said Stamey. "I'm just very angry for everyone else who has to go through this. I definitely can't imagine waiting to go into a doctor's office and get tested and waiting for those results. That would be very stressful."

She also doesn't understand how this could have been going on for 12 years with no one coming forward.

"How could people working in the office not say anything? And I just don't understand why. I mean, I don't know if it was a money thing? I don't think syringes cost that much," said Stamey. "I don't really understand how someone could do that or why you would do that and why no one would speak up for 12 years."

More Info: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Epidemiology/dentistFAQs.pdf or call 1-877-462-2911.

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