(CBS News) Colorado-based oral surgeon Dr. Stephen Stein's alleged reuse of needles and syringes at two of his dental practices may have been discovered during an unrelated investigation into prescription fraud.
CBS Denver reports that a former employee of the oral surgeon may have blown the whistle on Stein before he lost his license, tipping state investigators to look into Stein's alleged decade-long practice of re-using needles and syringes.
The employee, who had previously contacted CBS Denver last spring, said Stein was ordering drugs under patients' names and she questioned the practice, telling the station she wanted to let the state know of her concerns. An investigation by the state's dental board led to an agreement in which Stein gave up his license to practice in June 2011. It was during this probe that the state discovered the alleged practice of reusing needles, according to the station.
Colorado health officials firstthat Stein may have reused needles on patients from September 1999 through June 2011 at his practice in Highlands Ranch, Colo., as well as from August 2010 to June 2011 at his office in Denver.
Mark Salley, communications director for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment told HealthPop that the department had sent letters to 8,000 of Stein's former patients advising them to get tested for HIV and hepatitis, but since patient records only dated back to 2005, it decided to release the July 12 press release to inform other possible patients.
According to CBS Denver, the June 2011 agreement to stop practicing following the Colorado Dental Board's investigation stated that Stein "deliberately" and "willfully" violated Colorado Dental Practice Law.
"It means he has agreed to stop practicing. We could have made him stop practicing, that would have provided an opportunity to go to a hearing. So, to prevent that from happening, we offered him an opportunity for him to agree to stop practicing and he took advantage of that opportunity," State Dental Board member Maulid Miskel told the station.
CBS Denver also reported that following the state's investigation, the board turned over evidence to Denver Police Department in April 2012, who has since been investigating Stein for prescription drug fraud. The station reports Stein recently moved out of his last known address and has not responded to efforts to contact him.