Questions and answers for patients of the George M. Davis Dental Clinic
In response to a complaint, the Washington State Department of Health – Dental Quality Assurance Commission (DQAC) conducted an infection control inspection at George M. Davis Dental Clinic. Proper infection control practices prevent the spread of infections in settings where healthcare is provided. The inspection identified multiple infection control problems including the cleaning, disinfection, sterilization, and storage of reprocessed dental instruments. Inadequately cleaned and sterilized instruments might have potentially spread infections to patients during dental procedures. We’re advising anyone who was a patient at this clinic to talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV infection.
Public Health does not know of any infections associated with this clinic. But we know that inadequately cleaned and sterilized instruments can spread infections to patients in healthcare settings, including during dental procedures. It’s unlikely but possible that someone could have become infected with hepatitis B, C, or HIV from a contaminated instrument or other infection control lapse.
We don’t have the dental clinic records for any individuals, and we don’t know the exact risk to each patient. Overall, the risk of infection is likely to be low for most patients. As a precaution, Public Health advises anyone who was a patient at the George M. Davis Dental Clinic to talk to their health care provider about testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Any patients who might have had procedures such as extractions or procedures requiring shots (injections with a needle) in the mouth may be at relatively higher risk and should be sure to consult with their health care provider.
We believe that patients have a right to know when problems in a healthcare facility may have possibly caused them significant harm, even if the risk is not high. We want patients to have the information about the situation so they can make informed health decisions. We are making a public announcement because we do not have the information we need to contact the patients who may have been exposed individually.
The main infections of concern that could possibly be transmitted are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
Symptoms of hepatitis include abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue (feeling unusually tired) and jaundice (skin and eyes turn yellow). Some people with hepatitis B and most with hepatitis C experience mild or no symptoms. New HIV infection may cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a flu-like illness.
Sometimes people may not experience symptoms until much later. Even with no symptoms, infected people can still spread these diseases to others from microscopic amounts of blood and body fluids through sex, sharing razors and toothbrushes, sharing needles, and from mother to infant.
We don't know the exact number of patients who may have been potentially affected because there is no available list of patients. Several attempts were made to obtain the patient list from the dentist so that patients could be individually notified, but both the Dental Quality Assurance Commission and Public Health were unable to make contact with the dentist after the clinic was closed. The investigation done by the Washington State Department of Health – Dental Quality Assurance Commission (DQAC) could not determine the duration of the infection control problems but there was evidence that they could have been going on for a long time, possibly years.
Public Health — Seattle & King County learned about the suspension of the dentist license and DQAC investigation on October 1, 2018. Over a period of weeks, Public Health worked with Washington State Healthcare Associated Infection program and the DQAC investigator to determine risk to dental patients. Several attempts were made to obtain the patient list from the dentist so that patients could be individually notified, but both the Dental Quality Assurance Commission and Public Health were unable to make contact with the dentist after the clinic was closed. Public Health tried to find other avenues for locating patients so that they could each be notified, but this information was not available, leaving a news release as the only notification option.
Share this information with your healthcare provider and talk about whether you should get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Some things that could increase the risk of infection include multiple visits to this clinic, having a procedure like an extraction, or having medication that was injected by needle.
If you do get tested, healthcare providers should test for all 3 viruses: - hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
People without a healthcare provider can call 206-296-4949 then press "2" for help setting up an appointment for testing.
Healthcare providers should explain the results of the tests to their patients and counsel them about the results, including whether any further testing, evaluation or treatment is needed. Public Health will also provide an explanation of the test results and counseling to anyone who tests positive.
It is important to know that a positive test means that you have been infected with one of the three viruses at some point and testing can also tell whether you are currently infected or are no longer infected. It’s important to understand that this testing can’t determine where or precisely when the infection occurred.
Yes, because these viruses are relatively common in the community it is very possible that there will be patients from this clinic identified with one of these three infections but who did not become infected through care at the clinic.
The overall prevalence of these infections in the population are:
- HIV: About 3 or 4 people per 1000 King County residents have been diagnosed with HIV. Local experts believe that about 6-10% of people who have HIV don’t know it, usually because they have not been tested recently.
- Hepatitis B: Overall, about 1 person in 3000 King County residents has chronic hepatitis B infection. People born in, or who live with persons born in, countries with high rates of hepatitis B are much more likely to have hepatitis B infections.
- Hepatitis C: Overall 1 in 100 people in the US population is estimated to have hepatitis C and the risk is three times higher among "baby boomers" (persons born 1945-1965) and much higher among persons who have injected illicit drugs at any time. It is estimated that about half of persons with HCV infection are not aware they are infected.
The dentist’s license was revoked and the clinic closed. The Washington State Department of Health investigation report is available online or copies can be requested by calling 360-236-4700.
Link/share this page at www.kingcounty.gov/gmd