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Dentist found reusing needles, thousands urged to get HIV tests

By Yukio Strachan     Jul 16, 2012 in Health
Denver - Angry they were deceived by a doctor they thought they could trust, former patients of a suspended Colorado dentist who allegedly used dirty needles on patients for over 12 years are now being urged to get testing for HIV and Hepatitis.
Robin McLean is one such patient.
“It’s kind of a shock, it’s devastating really,” she said.
McLean told CBS4 that Dr. Stephen Stein, a once licensed dentist and practicing oral surgeon, has destroyed her life.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent letters to 8,000 patients of Stein, urging them to seek tests for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C after learning of "unsafe injection practices" at two Denver-area clinics he owned.
CBS Denver reported that during an investigation, the health department determined syringes and needles that Stein used to inject medications through patients' IV lines were saved and reused on multiple patients between September 1999 and June 2011.
"Needles and syringes were used repeatedly, often days at a time," the Colorado health department said in a Frequently Asked Questions document posted on its website. "Because there can be a small amount of blood that remains in syringes and needles after an injection through an IV line, there is a risk of spread of bloodborne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, between patients."
In 1999 after an oral surgery in Stein’s now-shuttered practice, McLean got sick.
“Probably 48 hours after having it done my jaw bone began to swell and became red,” she said.
While not definitively linked, she says she always attributed it to her surgery with Stein. The most recent allegations against Stein cements her belief that he is responsible for her illness.
The bacterial infection she contracted sent her to the hospital and there she contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just reported on life-threatening bacterial MRSA infections being spread from reused needles for pain injections that were given at clinics in Arizona and Delaware between March and April of this year, according to CBS news. Ten people were infected from both outbreaks, and CDC investigators found single-dose or single-use vials meant for a one-time injection (and one patient) were reused for multiple patients.
Since that time McLean has dealt with several hospital stays, severe illness and financial loss.
“I’ve had to file for bankruptcy; I have no medical insurance, so basically it’s been over $800,000,” she said
McLean says she would like some answers.
“It would be nice to have some sort of explanation and understanding.”
Betrayal of Trust
Jeannette Monical would also like some answers.
“This was a guy who had the right credentials and was being referred by some very reputable dentists here in the Denver area,” Monical told KDVR news.
Monical sent her two daughters to Dr. Stein for wisdom teeth extractions.
"A surgeon that you are trusting your life, your kids lives to, [there's] no excuse," Monical told 9NEWS. "These are people's lives that he's damaging or could be damaging. I'm going crazy inside. You put your lives in their hands. Because I didn't go to school for this, I don't know how all this stuff works."
Stein, who reportedly had two divorces within 6 months, moved out of the home early Wednesday morning, just one day before the Colorado Department of Health issued the warning KDVR news reported.
CBS4 has also learned the Denver Police Department is investigating Stein for prescription drug fraud and potentially diverting prescription drugs. The investigation began in April.
Stein's lawyer, Victoria Lovato, said her client "is cooperating with the state's investigation," Yahoo reported.
That's not enough. Monical said, if the accusations are accurate, she hopes he is punished.
"I want him to pay the price. I want him to [go to] prison. I want me him to pay for all these lives that he could be messing up," Monical said.
"Since they knock you out, that's a big concern for me. I thought I did everything right, and look where I'm standing now," Monical told 9NEWS. "I don't know how somebody could play with someone else's life like that."
As the story unfolds, Monical and other former patients wonder why the doctor they trusted put them at risk.
“I just don’t understand how somebody with his background, what he does, what he did, would even take a chance like this,” she said. “For what? 17 cents because he couldn’t replace a needle?”
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