Berks County: Dental patients urged to get tested for HIV and hepatitis
READING, BERKS COUNTY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health has alerted patients of the Center for Family and Specialty Dentistry in Reading, Berks County, they might be at risk for infection after an investigation discovered the facility did not follow appropriate infection control procedures.
The department recommends patients seen between December 19, 2015, and October 19, 2016, get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
“While we haven’t received reports of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV from patients, infection control procedures at this practice were inadequate and created the potential for harm, so we’re recommending patients get tested,” said Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy. “We prefer that patients receive information regarding their health directly from their provider. However, in this case, that did not happen, so we’ve contacted patients of this practice directly.”
The department recommends testing for current or former patients who had dental procedures performed at the office, such as cleanings, fillings, implants, denture fittings, and other procedures.
An investigation by the departments of Health and State found that the Center for Family and Specialty Dentistry practice did not follow appropriate procedures to properly clean, disinfect, or sterilize devices at their 2642 Bernville Road location in Reading, Berks County.
On October 21, the department sent a letter to the practice to cease and desist all patient care, as well as issued formal recommendations to improve patient safety. No patients should have received care at the practice and the practice remains closed until the infection control concerns are addressed.
“Infection control is an essential step in patient safety that cannot be overlooked,” said Secretary of State Pedro Cortés. “It’s important to talk to your dentist about infection control and what they are doing to protect you while under their care.”
On November 4, the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry temporarily suspended the dental licenses of Dr. Stephen Sulzbach, of Greenville, Mercer County, and Drs. Jana and Eric Osmolinski, of La Jolla, California, who practiced at the Center for Family and Specialty Dentistry, on the grounds that their continued practice may be an immediate and clear danger to the public health and safety. The temporary suspensions remain in effect pending further action by the board.
Patients can call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) for more information.
Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are serious medical conditions that may not cause any outward symptoms in infected patients for many years. Visit the Department of Health’s website to learn more.
For more information about infection control procedures in dental offices, visit the Center for Disease Control.