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Dr. Stephen Stein, alleged needle re-user, under investigation for prescription fraud

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dr stephen stein.JPG
Dr. Stephen Stein.
Update: The story of Dr. Stephen Stein, an oral surgeon whose possible re-use of needles over a twelve-year period has led the state health department to suggest that at least 8,000 of his patients be tested for HIV and hepatitis, has gone national. And while Stein has yet to be charged with a crime, an ongoing investigation against him on another matter -- prescription fraud -- could change that.

Detective Raquel Lopez, spokeswoman for the Denver Police Department, can't provide any details of the case right now. "The only thing we can give you is that it's an active and ongoing investigation, and it's for prescription fraud," she says.

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Another look at Dr. Stephen Stein, courtesy of CBS4.
Lynn Kimbrough, speaking for the Denver District Attorney's Office, is in a similar situation. "We don't really have a role in it at this point," she says. "What happened is that when the dental board forwarded their information to the Colorado Attorney General's Office -- I understand it was a packet of material -- one of our folks got a call from the AG's office. And our folks directed them to forward it to the Denver Police Department for investigation."

A similar packet went to "the public health folks," Kimbrough notes -- and the CDPHE subsequently issued a recommendation that all of Stein's patients between September 1999 and June 2011 be tested for HIV, as well as for heptatis B and hepatitis C.

Even if reusing needles doesn't lead to criminal charges against Stein, prescription fraud certainly could. Look no further than the case of Dr. Louis Hampers, a former pediatric PR doc who was sentenced to five years probation and fined $30,000. As our Melanie Asmar reported, Hampers allegedly used five aliases and eight fake patient names to fraudulently obtain drugs such as generic Vicodin, Valium and Ambien 654 times at pharmacies in Denver and Aurora.

Look below to see our previous coverage.

Original post, 6:36 a.m. July 13: "Your oral health is our priority," announces the bio page for Dr. Stephen Stein, DDS, on the website for his oral surgery practice. But the Colorado Department of Public Health feels Stein may not have lived up to this worthy goal.

The CDPHE is asking that patients who received IV medications from Stein over a twelve-year span to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Stein's background as shared on his site offers no indication that his work would be anything other than stellar. He started practicing in 1994, following education at such respected institutions as Arizona State University and the Iowa College of Dentistry, and listed himself as a faculty member at the University of Colorado Health Science Center and Denver Health Medical Center.

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A photo of Stein and staff toasting the Cherry Creek office open house in February 2011.
"Dr. Stein strongly believes every patient is an individual who deserves to be treated with personal courtesy and respect. He is dedicated to delivering the very best healthcare possible," the site maintains.

Not so, the CDPHE maintains. In a frequently asked questions document prepared in the Stein case, the department alleges that at Stein's practice, "needles and syringes were used repeatedly, often days at a time." The note adds, "Because there can be a small amount of blood that remains in syringes and needles after an injection through an IV line, there is a risk of spread of bloodborne viruses, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, between patients."

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Kristen Parker.
This warning recalls the case of Kristen Parker, a nurse serving a thirty-year prison sentence. As our Alan Prendergast wrote, Parker "stole syringes of fentanyl, a potent painkiller used in many surgical procedures, from operating rooms and replaced them with syringes filled with saline. A former heroin junkie, Parker injected herself with fentanyl and often put the used needle back on the anesthesiologist's cart -- exposing patient after patient to hep C, a potentially liver-ravaging virus, which she'd acquired through sharing needles with other addicts. She was fired after testing positive for fentanyl, and health officials eventually linked her genotype to 35 cases of hepatitis C among Rose patients."

Thus far, no one's alleging that Stein has hepatitis, or that he's infected with the HIV virus. But that doesn't mean who saw him between September 1999 and June 2011 are out of the woods if he did indeed reuse needles. Hence the letters, which the CDPHE has reportedly sent to 8,000 individuals thus far -- and the possibility remains that more may go out in the not-too-distant future.

To put it mildly, there's no indication on Stein's website that anything's wrong, aside from the fact that it hasn't been updated in more than a year. His most recent blog entry, from April 2011, sports the benign entry "What are wisdom teeth?" That's preceded by an item about an open house at his Cherry Creek office (3737 East 1st Avenue, Suite B) the previous February and one about New Year's Resolutions, which declares, "It is that time a [sic] year when we all sit back and think about what we did last year and what we should do in the next!"

No telling at this point what Stein's reflecting on -- but it's probably not especially pleasant. Here's a 9News package on the subject, followed by the aforementioned CDPHE document.

Dr. Stephen Stein FAQ

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Kristen Parker gets thirty years for hepatitis-C infections -- but her victims get life."

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18 comments
adarc
adarc

Donkey - I don't know what medical/dental office you work in, but reusing needles or ( equipment of any kind) went the way of the wind in the 80's. No one does it, ever and for good reason. If there weren't a risk of infection former patients wouldn't have to be notified.

adarc
adarc

Not only should Dr Stein be charged, but so should his smiling office staff - any one of those assistants, office managers or hygenists would know better than to expose patients to disease in that way.

Celeste Trujillo Helms
Celeste Trujillo Helms

Who is "Donkey Hotay"?   You have no right to respond to concerned patients in such a disrespecttful manner. 

Concerned Highlands Rancher
Concerned Highlands Rancher

Is Donkey Hotay actually Dr. Stein in Mexico???  My vote is yes.   Yours truly,  husband of potential infectee....

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Life's a risk ... then you die. Get used to it.

David
David

Donkey Hotey, tell the chill comment to those who have been infected according to the Colorado Health Department website. How dare you defend someone who made millions and could not bare the expense of new items for the health and safety of every patient.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You really want to risk your life? ... jaywalk across Colfax or Colorado Blvd at rush hour.

dirtydentalpractices
dirtydentalpractices

Maybe one did and that is why there was the investigation. On a different note, what is wrong with his site and customer service. The website is still active, taking appointments, but no one will call me back yet. Darn. Was wanting to take a risk with my life this coming week.

Arizonatraveler
Arizonatraveler

Was there open IV flowing? How far was the injection port from the entrance of the IV into the patients arm? Seems to me an impossibility if the injection port 4 feet away and open IV flowing toward patient. Any studies on retrograde virus flow going upstream from patient into IV bag? My bet is they won't find a link. Your right, makes good headlines.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The bacteria and viruses that infest YOUR body carry a 0.001% chance of infecting your patients. Pay up!

Austin
Austin

As a nurse I find your attitude disgusting. If there is even a 0.001% chance of a patient being infected with a deadly disease there should be HELL to pay!

Austin
Austin

Why in the hell didn't the STAFF say something to the health department? The Dr. is to blame for this but the staff HAD to know what he was doing as well. If there are any nurses involved in this they should be brought up on charges as well. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

They did NOT reuse IV needles. All IV needles were new and sterile. They reused the sedation syringes that ported to the IV line. The odds that any previous patient's blood somehow traveled backwards up the catheter and into the IV line, then overcame the positive pressure from the sedation syringe at the port, and traveled into the syringe are almost non-existent. But it makes for a good Hysteria Inducing Headline, doesn't it? I'll bet you McDonald's Happy Meals for the whole family that you didn't contract any Hep or HIV from that practice. Do report back with your blood test results.

barb
barb

I do not need anyone telling me to relax and take a chill pill.  Yes, family members did receive full sedation.  Re-using needles - ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Why are you defending this? 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Just get tested, no need to panic. Did your family receive FULL SEDATION during their visits? If not, you have nothing to worry about, and don't even need to get tested. If they DID receive full sedation, the odds are extremely low, being as they did NOT resuse the puncture catheters -- needles -- they reused the sedation syringes -- not needles -- that tap into the IV line. Calm down, take a breath, take a chill-pill and relax. Here's the link to his suspension -- https://doraimage.state.co.us/LibertyIMS::/sidtfz0UG4hSgea721o/Cmd%3D%24%24E339-t-Dl6Y7zD%3BIjeWVS%3D%23ylw8%3BaRN%3D3hjf%3B4nBl%3DG%3Bg05LM%3DvJ5rVx2CNfJBUNCaVN3f5pX7t

barb
barb

Type your comment here. So, why are we not being told why his license was revoked last year?  The Health Dept. says it was for something not related to the re-use of needles.  Also, if the Health Dept. found out about the needles in April, why weren't we warned then?  My husband and two children all went to Dr. Stein during the period between 1999 and 2011.  They received letters in the mail today telling them to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis B and C.  I would like to know much more about this story, like has he been arrested yet?

radical_bat
radical_bat

Someone just tested positive for Hep C. There goes your idiotic theory.

radical_bat
radical_bat

Someone tested positive for Hep C from Stein's Clinic. You fail and stop defending someone who didn't follow Bloodborne Pathogens 101. Seriously, any Biology 101 student know this stuff.

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