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Former patients of shuttered Burien dental clinic urged to get Hepatitis, HIV tests

Dentist (FILE)

BURIEN, Wash. -- Patients who recently had services performed at a Burien dental office are being advised to get tested for Hepatitis and HIV after issues were discovered with the clinic's sterilization practices.

After a complaint, health officials conducted an inspection of the George M. Davis Dental clinic in August, which revealed multiple infection control problems, "including the cleaning, disinfection, sterilization, and storage of reprocessed instruments," according to the Seattle/King County department of health. Davis' dental license was suspended immediately.

Among the findings in the inspection, in addition to instrument sterilization issues, according to the Washington State Department of Health:

  • Most areas of the dental office were cluttered, disorganized and messy and had evidence that a dog regularly was present in the main room, including dog food in a bowl and a pet bed in an exam room.
  • Food, drink and food-soiled dishes were on counters with dental supplies and in refrigerators alongside dental products.
  • Discovery of numerous expired products, including luting cement with a written expiration that had passed years ago.
  • No proof he or employees had received Hepatitis B vaccinations.
  • Masks were not changed between patients.
  • An employee wore personal protective equipment to and from work.
  • Drugs in emergency first aid kit were expired.
  • Evidence the dentist was at least temporarily living at the clinic.

Health officials say they do not know of any infections associated with the office, but say there is risk as inadequately cleaned and sterilized instruments can spread infections. They stressed the risk of infection is low for most patients, though those who had extractions or procedures that required shots in the mouth have higher risks. Officials advise those who had dental work at the office to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

"Even though the risk of infection from this situation is likely to be low, we don't know the exact risk for each patient at this clinic," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Because infections can spread when good infection control practices are not followed, if you've been a patient at the George M. Davis Clinic talk with your healthcare provider to help determine if you should get tested."

Officials say symptoms of hepatitis include: stomach pain, vomiting, jaundice and fatigue that persists for weeks or months, though some people with hepatitis have mild or no symptoms. Symptoms of HIV can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like illness. Symptoms may not appear until well after the exposure, officials said.

Health officials have been unable to get former patient information from the now-closed clinic to reach patients directly. Any former patient who does not have access to a healthcare provider for testing can contact Public Health for help at (206) 296-4949.

Davis would have to complete a minimum of 25 hours of education in infection control and pay a $10,000 fine to have his license restored.

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