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Update: Testing continues for patients of deceased Arkansas dentist

Published On: Apr 12 2013 06:44:34 AM HST
Updated On: Apr 29 2013 11:08:38 AM HST

Patients of an Arkansas dentist, who committed suicide, are being contacted by the Arkansas Health Department concerning possible exposure to infectious material. The ADH is recommending blood tests.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -

Updated April 29th:

Ed Barham with the Arkansas health department said 85 fomer patients of Dr. William Jarrod Stewart are being sought for testing. AHD has contacted "92% of the 85 patients," said Barham.

The ADH has recieved results for 59 tests submitted and all came back negative. Barham said the SHD has found no transmission of any disease from the dentist.

Ed Barham said “AHD is very reassured by the results so far.”

Updated April 12th:

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) contacted patients who received IV drugs from Dr. William Jarrod Stewart.  According to a statement from Ocean Dental, 68 of these are Ocean Dental patients.

In a statement released by the office, Stewart was an employee of Ocean Dental from November 2011 until February 20, 2012.

According to his obituary Stewart died on Feb. 29, 2012 - nine days after his employment at Ocean Dental.

Pulaski County coroner Gerone Hobbs confirmed Stewart committed suicide by overdosing on drugs. Hobbs said it caused liver and respiratory failure as confirmed by a toxicology test.

Dr. Stewart treated patients at clinics in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Jonesboro and Hot Springs.

 Based on information received from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the ADH has concluded that some of the drugs used by Dr. Stewart may have been contaminated with "infectious material."  The department of health stepped in after receiving a tip from the DEA that Stewart had tampered with vials of drugs by removing and then replacing the lids.  A DEA spokesperson, said that the medication was tampered with after delivery.  Health department officials say they have no evidence that the drugs were actually used on patients, but that patients should be tested as a precaution

The dental clinics where Dr. Stewart treated patients are Ocean Dental clinics in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock. Additionally, Bevans Pediatric Dentistry in Little Rock.  According to the ADH's investigation, no patients treated at the Ft. Smith clinic were identified as being at risk.

No other providers or employees from Ocean Dental clinics below had access to these medications; therefore, no patients seen by other providers at these locations are thought to be at risk. 

The ADH is contacting patients and recommending screening for infection. Screening will involve a questionnaire and a blood test and will be coordinated at ADH locations free of charge.

Stewart, 40, passed away at Baptist Medical Center in Febuary 2012, according to his obituary. He was born October 1971 in Pine Bluff, according to his obituary. He received his under graduate degree from UALR and was a graduate of the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans.

He practiced dentistry for the past 10 years practicing dentistry in Little Rock, Arkansas.

At this time time no illnesses have been linked to this situation. According to the ADH, there may be potential for limited disease transmission.

 The ADH confirmed only patients who received IV medicines (directly into a vein) from Stewart may be at risk. This does not include locally applied anesthetic or nitric oxide gas. Patients who received IV medicine prior to November 2011 are not at risk.

 If you are a former patient of Stewart, were seen by him in the affected timeframe contact the Ark. Department of Health Hotline at 800-633-1735.

Wednesday the Arkansas State Dental Association released a statement.

"Earlier today, the Arkansas Department of Health announced its effort to contact about 100 patients of a dentist who may have violated infection control procedures during dental surgery involving intravenous (I.V.) sedation. The procedures were performed at dental offices in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Hot Springs and Jonesboro during a three-month period between November 2011 and February 2012. The Arkansas State Dental Association is closely monitoring the situation."

"The rules and regulations that govern the practice of dentistry dictate that all dental offices adhere to standard precautions as established by the CDC, including those for intravenous (IV) sedation. Adherence to infection control procedures ensures a safe and sanitary environment for patients in dental offices and creates a safe working environment for dentists and their teams."

"Dentists in Arkansas have an excellent record of providing safe and sanitary environments for their patients. Incidents as the ones described in the Health Department press release represent an extreme departure from normal sedation techniques and do not reflect the typical way sedation techniques are administered in Arkansas."

"Patients are always encouraged to visit with their dentist about infection control procedures that are utilized in their office. The dental professionals of Arkansas are typically pleased to describe their procedures for keeping patients safe and healthy while undergoing dental treatment."

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