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Cal/OSHA exposes risks that may lead to medical malpractice

California residents who need dental care may be interested to learn about the risks to which they may be exposed when they visit dentists. After receiving a complaint from a worker who felt his or her safety was threatened at the dental practice where he or she worked, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) assigned an inspector to investigate the claim. It was ultimately determined that not only employees, but also patients, were exposed to life-threatening hazards caused by the dentist’s disregard for safety regulations. Such negligence may lead to patients filing medical malpractice claims.

The initial complaint apparently alleged that the dentist was aware of a broken hygienist patient chair that could cause severe injuries but failed to have it repaired. The assigned inspector chose to address the issue in writing and accepted the dentist’s written reply, stating that there was no broken chair. More than two months later, Cal/OSHA received more complaints about the inspector failing to properly investigate the complaint.

After six months, the investigation was reopened, and, upon physical inspection, it was found that the chair was in fact broken and had not been repaired. Inspectors also found that the dentist allowed for the potential spread of blood-borne pathogens and diseases by violating safety regulations related to the disposal of needles. To prevent patients and staff from being exposed to HIV and Hepatitis, used needles must be disposed of in special bins that have to be replaced regularly. It was determined that the dentist attempted to save money by not utilizing the regular services of a disposal company and allowing the bins to overflow.

California residents who need dental work should feel secure in knowing that their health is their dental professionals’ goal. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Those who have suffered from the effects of medical negligence may choose to pursue claims in civil court. Proof of negligence will be required, but successful presentations of medical malpractice claims in civil court may lead to fair monetary compensations.

Source:, “San Luis Obispo dentist cited for safety violations“, Karen Velie, March 18, 2015