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Local health, dental clinic accused of reusing needles
By: Bill Melugin, Jamel Valencia
ANTHONY, N.M. - A clinic in Anthony, N.M., that serves low-income families is alerting patients who may have been exposed to a health hazard.
Workers at La Clinica de Familia, located at 855 S. Anthony Drive, are reviewing patient records after learning about 58 of its patients may have come in contact with reused health equipment.
Suzan Martinez de Gonzales, chief executive officer for the clinic, told KFOX14 that patients who were seen in the clinic during a 10-day period beginning Oct. 22 and ending Oct. 31 may have been exposed to a health risk.
One patient's mother contacted KFOX14 Thursday. She requested to be identified only as "Lisa."
Her son, a 27-year-old man, was seen for dental work during the time period.
"My son was seen a couple of weeks ago for a tooth extraction, and a couple of days ago I received a phone call from La Clinica, it was a receptionist, they were trying to get in touch with my son, they said it was an emergency," Lisa said. "They set up an appointment, he was seen yesterday, they told him it was probable he was exposed to reused anesthetics, they explained to him that he was going to have to undergo testing, that they were going to check for HIV, and hepatitis as well."
Although it has not been confirmed by the clinic, Lisa told KFOX14 she was informed of how the situation happened.
"I went to talk to the dentist yesterday, and I asked what happened and they pretty much said there was an intern there for a couple of days, and he was taking the used anesthetic and putting it back into the container," Lisa said.
Lisa said clinic staff told her the odds of infection were low but that there is still a chance, and she is worried about other unsuspecting patients who may have been exposed as well.
"I felt like people needed to know what was going on because these clinics are designed for low income, and these people have no other place to go," she said. "What happened there just threatened my son's life as well as others."
The clinic, in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health, has set up a bloodborne-pathogens testing program with an outside provider to test patients.
According to Martinez de Gonzales, the clinic is contacting patients and recommending them for testing.
Martinez De Gonzales released the following official statement to KFOX14.
"On October 31, 2013, La Clinica de Familia became aware of a breach of its infection control procedures at its dental clinic in Anthony, NM. A review of the records of all patients seen in the clinic during an eight day period beginning October 22 and ending October 31, 2013 identified 58 individuals who were possibly affected. LCDF consulted with the New Mexico Department of Health and has set up a bloodborne pathogens testing program with an independent provider for the identified individuals. LCDF is notifying the patients about the incident and the recommendations for post-exposure testing. LCDF will use its best efforts to assist the patients in getting the needed follow-up care. Because of patient confidentiality, no media requests will be granted."
The clinic is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families, United Way, Avon, Paso Del Norte Health Foundation, B&CC Con Alma and Dona Ana County.
La Clinica de Familia
855 S. Anthony Drive