Shreveport dental office fires employee over not completely sanitized dental tools

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An internal audit conducted at a Shreveport dental office has revealed an employee failed to completely sterilize dental equipment.

The employee at the "Kool Smiles" located on the corner of Mansfield road and Jewella has been fired over the mistake. Now at least one parent is left questioning whether her child is at risk.

One-year-old Zildgian Barton had his first dentist appointment October 6, the same day coincidentally, Mansfield road's "Kool Smiles" owner tells us an employee made a mistake and didn't completely sanitize the dental tools.

"I panicked, a million things was going through my mind," said Tasha Marie Mayweather. After discovering the mistake through an internal audit, the dental office staff called 44 patients including Zilgin's mother one week later to break the news. "Oh my god, how could they make that type of mistake?" said Mayweather.

A Kool Smiles spokesman tells KSLA News 12 the dental instruments had been washed, but were missing an extra step of sterilization.
The thought still bothers Mayweather. "It made me think, how many other kids mouths had it been in?" she questioned.

She was advised by the Kool Smiles staff to take her son to "QuickCare" clinic free of charge, as a precautionary measure, there he was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. It is unclear if the infection is related at all. "He still has a cold, had a fever. He was vomiting also," said Mayweather.

But according to the dentist, Dr. David Vieth, infection due to the situation is unlikely, "Because the instruments were washed, ultrasonically cleaned and cold sterilized, and were not used on any at-risk patients, we believe the risk of infection to be very low."

Mayweather says she will probably be finding a new dentist after this experience. "If you make that mistake one time, then you'll do it again and that's just nasty," she said.

But Dr. Vieth says not only has the employee who made the mistake been fired, but corrective actions have been taken to improve office oversight and the entire staff has been re-trained on infection control practices.

A "Kool Smiles" spokesman says they have arranged that all care for patients at 2 locations in Shreveport-Bossier will be billed to the dental office directly. But they do say it is important for the patient to call Kool Smiles first to confirm whether they were part of the group affected.

There are two quick care locations Kool Smiles is working with: One in Bossier City on Hospital Drive and the other on the Bert Kouns Industrial Loop in Shreveport.

The following is Dr. David Vieth's full statement:

"Kool Smiles has voluntarily notified 44 patients, and is providing free preventive health options to affected families, after an internal audit determined a set of dental instruments had not been taken through an additional step of sterilization.  Because the instruments were washed, ultrasonically cleaned and cold sterilized, and were not used on any at-risk patients, we believe the risk of infection to be very low. The employee who made the error was terminated and the entire staff has been re-trained on infection control practices. In addition, we have deployed additional oversight into the office to assure all compliance protocols are being strictly followed. There have been no reports of infection with any of the affected patients."

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