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Oral surgeon linked to 15 cases of heart infections and one death

| Sep 16, 2016 | Medical Malpractice |

Doctor’s license is suspended after patients’ illnesses were found to be connected

After investigating 15 cases of people who had heart infections, including one person who died of complications, officials have linked them all to one oral surgeon in New Jersey.

Dr. John Vecchione had two outpatient facilities in Parsippany and Mt. Olive, but just last month, the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry suspended Vecchione’s license. He agreed to the meeting, and his he will not treat patients until an upcoming hearing with the Board.

Heart infections lead to a connection

Ryan Del Grosso was one of Vecchione’s patients – he had his wisdom teeth out in June 2014, but soon after he started to lose weight and passed out at work. Eventually, he was diagnosed with endocarditis, or an infection of the heart lining. The culprit? Enterococcus faecalis, or a bacterium that lives in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals.

The doctor who treated Del Grosso for his rare infection remembered another recent case and went to authorities. Health investigators conducted research over the span of two years found that 15 patients that were treated by Vecchione, and underwent sedation with an IV, had all eventually contracted infections. Of those, one died of complications, and 12 others had to have heart surgery.

“Clear and imminent danger”

After tying the cases to Vecchione, state officials went to his outpatient practices to examine the sterilization procedures. They found terrifying failures: not using sterile water or saline during procedures, improper handling and storage of vials of medication, poor sterilization of instruments and improper disposal and handling of syringes and needles.

The Board had an agreement with Vecchione to improve the handling and sterilization of tools and medications, but when investigated again on Aug. 19, the Attorney General said there were still violations. Vecchione denied any allegations, and stated that he has improved his practices’ sterilization methods, and says he’ll fight against the accusations.

Always follow up

This frightening story stresses the importance of following up on every medical mishap to detect any patterns involving one medical professional. The doctors and state officials did a wonderful job of following up with any patterns they recognized to help find the potential culprit.

As a patient, it’s important to trust your instincts and stand up for your rights if you believe you’ve encountered medical malpractice.

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