Otherwise healthy patients who undergo dental implants are at risk of ending up having heart surgery. As evidenced by the recent situation involving an oral surgeon who performed a number of procedures in his practice including installing implants which became infected, dental implant centers who regularly install “all on 4” dental implants in North Atlanta neighborhoods such as Alpharetta and Roswell, Georgia, must comply with sterilization protocol or risk liability for injures caused by, among other things, non-sterile water.
A continued failure to follow infection protocols exposes patients to a whole host of risks due to infection. This is especially true when dental implant centers install implants upon which dentures are mounted, or as the are commonly referred to in the industry as “all on 4 dentures.” They are called this because the dentures are mounted on 4 dental implants that are installed in the lower jaw for stability. The most serious risk to patients who are treated by dental implant centers of contracting the serious heart infection,” Repeated violations of infection control practices can result in many serious conditions.
Common violations of infection protocol that amount to dental malpractice because the subject patients to an increased risk of heart failure include failure to use sterile water during surgical procedures, non-sterile preparation of instruments and improper handling and disposal of needles and dental instruments used in the mouth.
According to the CDC’s advisory to dentists, all dental providers should use systems that treat water to meet drinking water standards (i.e., ≤ 500 CFU/mL of heterotrophic water bacteria). Independent reservoirs—or water-bottle systems—alone are not sufficient. Commercial products and devices are available that can improve the quality of water used in dental treatment. Consult with the dental unit manufacturer for appropriate water maintenance methods and recommendations for monitoring dental water quality. During surgical procedures, use only sterile solutions as a coolant / irrigant using an appropriate delivery device, such as a sterile bulb syringe, sterile tubing that bypasses dental unit waterlines, or sterile single-use devices.
Since dental implant centers are performing surgical procedures when they install implants, they must, at a minimum, comply with the CDC’s recommendations and use only sterile water in an appropriate delivery device, to include but not limited to the use of sterile bulb syringes, sterile tubing that bypasses dental unit waterlines, or sterile single-use devices. To install dental implants without using sterile water (delivered through sterile devices) unreasonably subjects the patient to unnecessary risks of infection, dental implant failure, and serious health conditions and bacterial infections such as endocarditis of the aortic heart valve, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, leading them to seek hospital care, according to the complaint. According to the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), bacterial endocarditis can stem from dental treatment, but the occurrence is rare. There is an estimated 1 to 5 cases per 100,000, but to expose dental patients to this risk by not following proper infection protocol and using sterile water, especially during the installation of a dental surgical procedure such as installing implants at dental implant centers, could, due to the risk of such serious health conditions, amount to gross negligence, in addition to negligence.
Robert J. Fleming is a partner in the law firm of Katz Wright Fleming & Dodson, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a personal injury attorney who has been handling wrongful death and dental malpractice cases for individuals and families who have been severely injured or died as a result of negligence for over 25 years. He practices in the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Alpharetta, Roswell and other areas of North Georgia. If you or a family member suspects that you have received sub-par dental treatment that may involved infection and/or the use of non-sterile water by the dental office, and would like to discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online. We are here to help.