ADH recommending blood tests for 100 dental patients

LITTLE ROCK - 84 dental patients will be getting a phone call from the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) to get a free blood test at one of their clinics. That's because they may have been infected during a dental procedure. The ADH was informed to do so by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The blood test is precautionary because patients of the specific doctor have not come forward with an infection and no one has found that the intravenous medicine the doctor used has been tainted.

68 Ocean Dental patients at clinics in Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock, in addition to 16 at Bevans Pediatric Dentistry in Little Rock are being asked to take a blood test.

No patients treated at the Fort Smith Ocean Dental clinic have been identified as being at risk.

The patients ranging in age from 14 to 22 were seen by Dr. William Jarrod Stewart. He specialized in sedation dentistry for root canals and wisdom teeth.

State Epidemiologist and ADH Medical Director, Dr. Dirk Haselow says, "There is no reason to believe there is any manufacturing issue involved or that there's any problem with sterilization of instruments in the clinics. These appear to have been tampered with after the sale."

The 90-day timeframe of the intravenous medicine in question is November 20, 2011 to February 20, 2012.

Dr. Haselow says no other dentists at the clinics had access to the drugs and they can't exactly talk to Dr. Stewart. "The doctor is deceased so we are unable to interview them." According to his obituary, he died February 29, 2012.

Police are analyzing to see if vials were tampered with because that raises the opportunity for the medicine to no longer be sterile. Dr. Haselow says at this time no one has found the vials are infected. "It's very different than the Oklahoma experience. It's 70-times smaller, we know exactly who we're trying to contact. No one at this point has been made ill."

A spokesperson with Bevans Pediatric Dentistry says there office is closed on Friday's, the day Dr. Stewart saw clients there.

The ADH is now contacting patients potentially at risk by telephone and letter and will recommend that patients be screened for infection. Screening will involve a questionnaire and a blood draw and will be coordinated at ADH locations free of charge.

At this time, only patients who received IV medicines (directly into a vein) from Dr. Stewart from November 20, 2011, to February 20, 2012, may be at risk. This does not include medicines injected into the mouth (local anesthetics used for numbing purposes) or anesthetic gasses. Patients who received IV medicine prior to November 20, 2011, are not at risk.

If you are a former patient of Dr. Stewart, were seen by him in the affected timeframe, received IV sedation dentistry and have moved addresses or changed phone numbers within the last two years, please call the ADH hotline listed below, since the contact information that the department has for you might be incorrect.

To obtain additional information, these patients and their families can contact the ADH hotline at 1-800-633-1735 from 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or email the department at


Arkansas Department of Health representatives currently are contacting 84 patients (68 are Ocean Dental patients) who received IV (intravenous) sedation drugs from Dr. William Jarrod Stewart, a former employee of Ocean Dental, during dental procedures performed by Dr. Stewart in the period from November 20, 2011 to February 20, 2012. Dr. Stewart treated these patients at clinics located in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. The Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these 84 patients be screened for infectious diseases, and is arranging for screenings to be conducted free of charge at local health department locations.

Ocean Dental has been fully cooperating with the Arkansas Department of Health since we were contacted last week. Although Ocean Dental is not aware of any information indicating that Dr. Stewart had any infectious disease, and no reports have been received about any of these patients contracting any infectious disease, the Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that these patients be tested as a precaution.

To be clear, no issue has been raised about any other Ocean Dental dentists or employees, or about any other procedures performed or drugs administered at these clinics. This recommendation for screening relates only to procedures performed by Dr. Stewart involving the use of IV (intravenous) sedation. IV sedation typically is used in a limited number of dental procedures. Patients who received only locally applied anesthetic, such as Lidocaine, or nitrous oxide gas during a dental procedure do not need to be concerned. Screening has not been recommended for those patients.

We recognize that the Arkansas Department of Health's recommendation will raise concerns, and that testing will require these patients to take time away from other activities, so Ocean Dental voluntarily agreed to cover the costs of testing these patients.

Ocean Dental also is sensitive to guarding the privacy of its patients. The information provided to the Arkansas Department of Health about these patients has been shared with the understanding that patient confidentiality will be preserved. We therefore cannot comment further about any specific patients or disclose information that might publicly identify those patients.

In addition, patients and their families who wish to contact Ocean Dental with questions about this situation can call Ocean Dental's Compliance Department at 405-707-6139.

We are proud of our history at Ocean Dental of providing quality dental care to patients across Arkansas. We take patient safety very seriously, and we insist on quality procedures and standards. We therefore will continue to work closely with the Arkansas Department of Health to try to resolve any concerns relating to Dr. Stewart's treatment of these patients.