Patients Of Pennsylvania Dentist Palmer Cotturo Urged To Get Tested For Hepatitis, HIV

Pennsylvania health officials have warned that former patients of Cotturo Dental Associates in Mount Bethel could be at risk of infection because of unsanitary procedures at the practice, the WFMZ reported.

Health authorities also urged the patients to undergo medical testing over fears they may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis B and C.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of State issued the warning on Tuesday after dentist Palmer Cotturo of Cotturo Dental Associates was ordered in August to shut down his practice because of sanitary issues.

Cotturo reportedly failed to dispose used needles and could not prove that he kept his office clean. Investigations conducted by the departments of health and state discovered that the practice did not follow the appropriate procedures for cleaning, disinfecting, or sterilizing devices.

Cotturo, however, said that the surprise inspection happened on a day that he was not seeing patients. He said that the patient care area would be properly cleaned before patients would come in the next day.

"I would never compromise the health and safety of any of my patients," he told Lehigh Valley Live. "I would never expose any of my patients to an unsafe environment."

The dentist nonetheless surrendered his license on Sept. 14.

Pictured dentist mirror and curved forceps are used for dental procedures.

Department of Health spokesperson Nate Wardle said that a complaint revealed the issues in Cotturo's dental facility. While there is currently no indication that anyone has gotten ill after getting treatment at the practice, Wardle said that any potential illnesses are confidential.

Officials said that patients who had procedures performed at the office such as cleanings, fillings, denture fittings, and implants from Jan. 1, 2007 to Sept. 14, 2018 are at risk of infections and need to get tested.

"The inadequate infection control procedures at this practice could create the potential for harm, so we are recommending patients get tested," said Secretary of Health Rachel Levine.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for dental offices to help prevent the spread of infections. These include proper cleaning and sterilization of all non-disposable items, which include dental tools; disinfecting the surfaces; and requiring staff members to use protective wear such as masks, eye protection, and gloves.

According to CNN, checking out the dentist's office can also give patients an idea about how serious the dentist is when it comes to cleanliness. A clean and uncluttered office, for instance, can indicate that the dentist is serious about sterilization. A cluttered office, on the other hand, can be more difficult to clean.