The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division of Consumer Affairs, Division of Law announced in a February 3, 2020 press release entitled “Morris County Oral Surgeon Agrees to 5-Year License Suspension to Resolve Allegations that His Breach of Infection Control Protocols Exposed Patients to “Bacterial Endocarditis” Heart Infection” that oral surgeon Dr. John Vecchione, whose Budd Lake office was associated with 15 cases of bacterial endocarditis in 2016, has agreed to a five-year license suspension and $293,500 in penalties and costs to resolve New Jersey’s allegations that his continued failure to follow infection control protocols exposed his patients to the risk of contracting the serious heart infection.
The oral surgeon was temporarily suspended from practice in August 2016 amid allegations that he failed to maintain sanitary conditions at his surgical office even after the State Department of Health (“DOH”) associated “breaches of infection prevention practices” at his office with 15 cases of bacterial endocarditis contracted by patients he treated between 2012 and 2014. Twelve of those patients required heart surgery and one died.
In a Verified Complaint filed in August 2016, New Jersey state officials alleged that the oral surgeon engaged in professional misconduct and gross negligence that endangered patient lives in repeated breaches of infection control practices set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state and federal regulators. Among the alleged breaches were a failure to use sterile water or sterile saline during surgical procedures, improper handling and storage of single dose medication vials, non-sterile preparation of instruments, and improper handling and disposal of needles and syringes. The allegations stemmed from a series of inspections conducted after the outbreak of endocarditis among the oral surgeon’s patients was discovered.
The oral surgeon, who agreed to the temporary suspension of his license until his case was resolved, agreed to settle the case under terms contained in a Final Consent Order approved by the State Board of Dentistry in late January 2020, shortly before he was scheduled to take the stand in his own defense last month.
Under the terms of the Consent Order, the oral surgeon’s license is suspended for a period of five years, with four years to be served as an active period of suspension and the remaining year to be served as a period of probation under the close supervision of a Board-approved dentist, who will observe his practices and submit signed and certified reports to the Board. The active suspension period is retroactive to August 31, 2016, the date on which the oral surgeon agreed to the temporary suspension of his license. The oral surgeon will be permitted to commence his one-year probationary period as early as August 31, 2020, provided he complies with the terms of the Consent Order and first demonstrates of his fitness and competency to resume practice.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries (or worse) due to possible dental malpractice in New Jersey or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a dental malpractice attorney in New Jersey or in your state who may investigate your dental malpractice claim for you and file a dental malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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