New York

Dentist Linked to Bacterial Outbreak Suspended

A New Jersey oral surgeon linked to 15 cases of a bacterial infection of the heart over the last two years, including one case that lead to death due to surgery complications, has had his license suspended by New Jersey's board of dentistry, NBC 4 New York has learned.

The suspension comes after NBC 4 New York reported a state Health Department investigation into the rash of infections linked to Dr. John Vecchione's outpatient surgery clinics in Mt. Olive and Parsippany last month.

The two-year investigation by the state Health Department and Dentistry Board into sanitation at Vecchione's practice began after Jefferson Township's Ryan Del Grosso was diagnosed with the heart infection endocarditis about five weeks after having two wisdom teeth pulled.

A doctor treating Del Grosso, now 25, at Morristown Medical Center remembered a similar case of the rare disease and notified state officials.

Health investigators identified three cases, all following surgery from the same practice, and later searched records of other patients from 2013 and 2014. The records revealed that 15 patients had been infected, likely caused during the use of IVs to sedate patients before surgery.

Investigators also went to Vecchione's practices, finding several examples of non-sterile products, storage issues and poor hand hygiene.

After the investigation, Dr. Vecchione agreed to a consent decree in which he said he would follow best practices in keeping a sanitary outpatient clinic.

However, the Dentistry Board in an order posted online said a return inspection two weeks ago found continuing deficiencies that present a "clear and imminent danger to the public," warranting a temporary suspension of his license.

In the order, Dr. Vecchione is quoted as denying the allegations and says he will fight them.

His attorney was not available for comment. 

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