Opinion: Where are the headlines after California hygiene board action?

Aug. 26, 2016
After California state dental hygiene board acts, Lory Laughter, RDH, remains concerned about the lack of interest about patients exposed to bloodborne pathogens at dental hygiene school.

To read news story about initial action by California state dental hygiene board, consider reading this article too:

California withdraws approval of Concorde dental hygiene campus

By Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, MS

Recently, the Dental Hygiene Committee of California (DHCC) withdrew approval for the dental hygiene program at Concorde Career College-Garden Grove. In the aftermath, I have heard some interesting comments, ranging from accusations of the entire incident resulting from a disgruntled past employee to the committee being too harsh with its punishment of the school.

All of the discussion brings up some questions that need to be considered.

During the lapse in infection control, more than 400-plus patients were seen and treated in the clinic. So, 400-plus patients were potentially exposed to dangerous bloodborne pathogens.

Knowing the number of procedures needed for graduation requirements, it makes sense that many of those 400 were seen more than once at the clinic. This reality means possibly multiple exposures to patients not being addressed by any agency other than the DHCC.

Even after spore test failures, the school did not pull instruments. This was addressed at the DHCC meeting. Patients continued to be treated at the clinic.

The Orange County health department was alerted to the problem, but as of this writing, it is not known if any patients have been contacted and/or tested. The students and faculty at the school have possible exposure to dangerous bloodborne pathogens, yet the school did not report that any of these individuals have been tested or given information on bloodborne pathogen protocols.

The investigation into the CCC Garden Grove campus did not come about from one complaint. It was launched after multiple complaints from individuals, including students, faculty, and administration. In my opinion, brave individuals showed concern for patient, student, and faculty health.

Aside from the questions about the quality of education offered, these questions weigh most on my mind. Who is protecting those with possible exposure to life-threatening pathogens? Where is the outrage by legislators and representatives elected to protect the public? Who is watching out for the health of the patients, students and faculty? Where is the health department? Where is the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)? Where are the headlines? Why the silence?

Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, MS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She is also a part-time educator or consultant for American Eagle, Livionex, and Nuvora. She can be contacted at [email protected].