7 children hospitalized in California: a solemn reminder of the importance of infection control

The industry has been buzzing with the news that seven children in California were hospitalized after receiving pulpotomies from an Anaheim Dental Clinic. After the procedures each of the seven children came down with a severe infection.

The infection—oral cellulitis—is a bacterial infection of the mouth that can spread to gum and bone. Treatment for this infection usually involves intravenous antibiotics (often long-term) and can even require surgery to permanently remove the infection.

Public health officials are contacting 500 other children who received the same treatment at the clinic but, fortunately, believe their risk for contracting the infection is low.

The dental clinic, Children’s Dental Group, does not know how the children contracted the infection and claim in an article published by the Orange County Register, they “follow industry standard sterilization and preventative practices.” However, the cause of the outbreak is still under investigation.

This news is eerily reminiscent of a similar situation that took place in Georgia last year, where nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscesses infections after undergoing the same treatment at a dental clinic. In this case the outbreak was linked to contaminated water—apparently the clinic did not monitor water quality or make sure their waterlines were sterilized at the end of each day as the industry recommends.

These unsettling events highlight the need to follow industry infection control guidelines down to the smallest detail. From ensuring proper glove and mask usage to giving patients protective eyewear and properly sterilizing instruments after each use, every small part of your infection control routine is essential to protecting patient health.

It’s never worth the time or cost-savings to cut corners in a situation where another person’s health is at risk. Take the time to make sure your infection control practices ensure you keep your patients safe.