DAYTON, Ohio — At least nine patients who received dental care at the Dayton VA Medical Center have tested positive in preliminary tests for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, VA officials said.
Since Feb. 8, the Dayton VA has contacted 527 of 535 veterans seen by a dentist who failed to change latex gloves and sterilize dental instruments properly between patients. Of 375 patients tested so far, there have been seven hepatitis C cases, two hepatitis B cases and no cases of HIV, director Guy Richardson said.
None of the patients had been previously diagnosed, and more testing will be needed to confirm those infections, said Dr. Andrea Buck, the VA's national director of medicine.
Epidemiological testing will be used to see if any confirmed cases resulted from exposure at the Dayton VA dental clinic, but Buck said, "We may never know the answer to that question."
Those tests will take months, she added.
The VA hasn't worked through what assistance might be available to those nine patients' family members if any of them are infected. Testing so far has not been requested by family members, VA officials said.
Administrative actions were initiated against three employees, including the dentist, Dwight Pemberton, who may have infected patients from 1992 to July 2010. But Pemberton, 81, retired Feb. 11. As a result, he no longer faces administrative action, Richardson said.