Seattle and King County Public Health is advising patients who received dental services from the George M. Davis Dental Clinic in Burien, Washington, to consider testing for hepatitis B and C and HIV infection. In operation since 1982, the clinic was closed following an infection control investigation by the Washington State Department of Health-Dental Quality Assurance Commission on August 2, 2018.
The inspection was performed in response to a complaint and identified multiple infection control problems, including the cleaning, disinfection, sterilization, and storage of reprocessed instruments. These findings prompted the Dental Quality Assurance Commission to suspend the dental license of George Max Davis.
Public Health does not know of any infections associated with the clinic but notes that inadequately cleaned and sterilized instruments can potentially spread infections to patients during dental procedures. Overall, Public Health believes that the risk of infection is likely to be low for most patients.
As a precaution, Public Health advises anyone who was a patient at the George M. Davis Dental Clinic to talk to their healthcare provider about testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Any patients who might have had procedures such as extractions or procedures requiring shots in the mouth may be at relatively higher risk and should be sure to consult with their healthcare provider, Public Health says.
“Even though the risk of infection from this situation is likely to be low, we don’t know the exact risk for each patient at this clinic,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health. “Because infections can spread when good infection control practices are not followed, if you’ve been a patient at the George M. Davis Clinic, talk with your healthcare provider to help determine if you should get tested.”
Patients who have been experiencing symptoms of hepatitis or HIV should be tested, Public Health says. Symptoms of hepatitis include abdominal pain, vomiting, jaundice, and fatigue that persists for weeks or months. Some people with hepatitis have mild or no symptoms. Symptoms of HIV can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like illness, and they may not appear until well after exposure.
Neither Public Health nor the Dental Quality Assurance Commission have been able to obtain a patient list from the now closed George M. Davis Dental Clinic for the purposes of contacting patients directly. Therefore, Public Health is reaching out through media outlets to alert former clinic patients who may be at risk. Former patients who do not have access to a healthcare provider for testing may contact Public Health at (206) 296-4949.