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100 Patients Treated by Arkansas Dentist Advised to Get Blood Tests

State Health Department says patients of Dr. William Jarrod Stewart who received IV medicines from November 20, 2011 to February 20, 2012 could be at risk. No illnesses have been confirmed, tests are a precaution.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - About 100 patients treated by an Arkansas dentist over a three-month period starting in November 2011 are being advised to get blood tests.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) says the patients range in age from 14 to 22 and received IV* medicines (directly into a vein) from Dr. William Jarrod Stewart from November 20, 2011, to February 20, 2012.

Dr. Stewart treated the patients at six dental clinics around the state between November 20, 2011, and February 20, 2012 at these locations:
  • Ocean Dental clinics in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock (No patients treated at the Fort Smith clinic have been identified as being at risk).
  • Bevans Pediatric Dentistry in Little Rock
The ADH says based on information received from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it has concluded that some of the drugs used by Dr. Stewart* may have been contaminated with infectious material. (The ADH did not say what type of infectious material).

Patients potentially at risk are being contacted by telephone and letter. Screening will involve a questionnaire and a blood draw and will be coordinated at ADH locations free of charge.

The ADH says it's important to note that at this time no illnesses have been linked to this situation. What has been identified thus far is a potential for limited disease transmission.

If you are a former patient of Dr. Stewart, were seen by him in the affected 90-day timeframe, received IV sedation dentistry and have moved addresses or changed phone numbers within the last two years, you are urged to call the ADH hotline listed below, since the contact information that the department has for you might be incorrect.

People who have additional questions or concerns may call the ADH hotline at 1-800-633-1735 from 8:30 – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or email the department at ivsedationconcerns@arkansas.gov.

*This does not include medicines injected into the mouth (local anesthetics used for numbing purposes) or anesthetic gasses. Patients who received IV medicine prior to November 20, 2011, are not at risk. 

*No other providers at the clinics listed below had access to these medications; therefore, no patients seen by other providers at these locations are thought to be at risk.

Ocean Dental issued the following statement on Tuesday in response:

Arkansas Department of Health representatives currently are contacting 84 patients (68 are Ocean Dental patients) who received IV (intravenous) sedation drugs from Dr. William Jarrod Stewart, a former employee of Ocean Dental, during dental procedures performed by Dr. Stewart in the period from November 20, 2011 to February 20, 2012. Dr. Stewart treated these patients at clinics located in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. The Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these 84 patients be screened for infectious diseases, and is arranging for screenings to be conducted free of charge at local health department locations.  

Ocean Dental has been fully cooperating with the Arkansas Department of Health since we were contacted last week. Although Ocean Dental is not aware of any information indicating that Dr. Stewart had any infectious disease, and no reports have been received about any of these patients contracting any infectious disease, the Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these patients be tested as a precaution.

To be clear, no issue has been raised about any other Ocean Dental dentists or employees, or about any other procedures performed or drugs administered at these clinics. This recommendation for screening relates only to procedures performed by Dr. Stewart involving the use of IV (intravenous) sedation. IV sedation typically is used in a limited number of dental procedures. Patients who received only locally applied anesthetic, such as Lidocaine, or nitrous oxide gas during a dental procedure do not need to be concerned. Screening has not been recommended for those patients.

We recognize that the Arkansas Department of Health’s recommendation will raise concerns, and that testing will require these patients to take time away from other activities, so Ocean Dental voluntarily agreed to cover the costs of testing these patients.  

Ocean Dental also is sensitive to guarding the privacy of its patients. The information provided to the Arkansas Department of Health about these patients has been shared with the understanding that patient confidentiality will be preserved. We therefore cannot comment further about any specific patients or disclose information that might publicly identify those patients.

To obtain additional information, these patients and their families can contact the ADH hotline at 1-800-633-1735 or email the department at IVSedationConcerns@arkansas.gov.

In addition, patients and their families who wish to contact Ocean Dental with questions about this situation can call Ocean
Dental’s Compliance Department at (405) 707-6139.

We are proud of our history at Ocean Dental of providing quality dental care to patients across Arkansas. We take patient safety very seriously, and we insist on quality procedures and standards. We therefore will continue to work closely with the Arkansas Department of Health to try to resolve any concerns relating to Dr. Stewart's treatment of these patients. 
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