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Fort Bliss: Chambers Dental Clinic patients possibly treated with unsterilized instruments

A frightening medical mistake left 141 dental patients in need of blood tests to check for possible infection. The patients were treated at the Chambers Dental Clinic on Fort Bliss.

Fort Bliss medical officials are investigating the possibility that dental instruments did not undergo the complete sterilization process before they were used to treat the patients. The patients were treated during appointments Monday and for one hour Tuesday.

Col. John Smyrski, the William Beaumont Army Medical Center commander, believes 10 people may have been affected, but cannot be sure.

“We acknowledge the risk is very low. But it’s not zero. So we want to err on the side of caution and safety for our patients,” Smyrski said. “Patient safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The dental instruments had been washed to a high level of disinfection, but did not complete the final sterilization process prior to use on patients. Of the 141 patients, 84 have been notified. Investigators know who the patients are and are working to notify everyone.

Col. Sandra La Fon, the medical response officer, said blood tests will be done on each patient to check for any potential infection.

“To see that that they don’t have any kind of infection right now. Then we test them again at six weeks, we test them again at 12 weeks and we will do a final blood test at six months. And at that time we can say that no infection has occurred. “

Once the incident was identified, medical and dental personnel conducted an in-depth review and analysis to assess the potential risk to patients.

“Instances like these are rare, but serious. We are conducting an investigation to determine the cause,” Smyrski said.

For more information, contact William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs at (915) 742-5088.

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