ABC news in Denver reported this week about a dentist in Colorado, Dr. Stephen Stein, who is under investigation for reusing needles for patients receiving IV sedation. Some 8,000 patients have been recommended to get tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. That is not exactly the recall reminder that you want to get from your dentist. While he stopped practicing a little over a year ago due to these complaints, the situation has now turned into a criminal investigation involving the Denver District Attorney.
Out of all the overhead expenses we have, needles hardly total up to an appreciable amount for our office. Considering that, I cannot figure out if Dr. Stein was simply being frivolous with his sterilization protocol, or if he was simply being cheap. There is a huge difference between choosing a product that may simply be less expensive, and using something as it was not intended. We saw a case this year in which the patient was billed for PFM’s on a couple of molars, and technically had only acrylic crowns permanently cemented. It would be one thing to go with a less expensive lab, but this kind of treatment is just unacceptable.
I used advise people to follow the “sleep at night” rule, aka if you make that particular decision for your patients or your practice, can you still sleep at night? It’s about maintaining uncompromised morals no matter what hardships you face in business, allowing your conscience to be at peace. Maybe that rule is not enough considering the things we have seen over the years. Maybe it should be something a bit more simple like “If it is illegal, don’t do it… even if you can still sleep at night.”
I know it has been a tough couple of years for dentists across the country, but let’s not cut corners that put people at risk.