N.J. suspends Morris County oral surgeon’s license after being linked to infections

MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (Morris County) – The State Board of Dentistry has temporarily suspended the license of Dr. John Vecchione, an oral surgeon whose Budd Lake office, 98 Route 46, has been linked to 15 cases of bacterial endocarditis, a serious heart infection, pending a hearing.

Vecchione agreed to the temporary suspension of his license after an unannounced state inspection of his office two weeks ago led Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino to file a verified complaint alleging Vecchione continues to breach infection control protocols.

Vecchione’s license will remain temporarily suspended until the Board of Dentistry holds a hearing on the allegations against him, according to the statement.

An August 19 inspection of Vecchione’s office, the third in 21 months, revealed continued deficiencies in his infection control practices, including failure to use sterile water or sterile saline during surgical procedures, improper handling and storage of multi-dose medication vials, non-sterile preparation of instruments, and improper handling and disposal of needles and syringes, according to a verified complaint filed by Attorney General Porrino.

“We allege that Dr. Vecchione’s repeated deviations from infection control standards, as revealed in three separate inspections, represent a lack of judgment and failure to recognize the grave risk to which he is exposing his patients,” Attorney General Porrino said. “This is particularly disturbing given that 15 of his patients have contracted a serious infection after being treated by him.”

In addition to the verified complaint, Attorney General Porrino filed an Order to Show Cause Notice of Hearing requiring Vecchione to appear before the Board on August 31 to explain why a temporary suspension or other restraints should not be placed on his license pending the Board’s final disposition of the Verified Complaint.

The day before that hearing, Vecchione entered into the Interim Consent Order for temporary license suspension. The Board adjourned his hearing until a later date, statement said.

“The Board has worked with Dr. Vecchione to address infection control deficiencies identified in his office and has been monitoring the situation to ensure that he is meeting CDC standards, as required by law. Allegations that he continues to fall short of those standards is extremely troubling,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By obtaining the temporary suspension of Dr. Vecchione’s license, we have stopped him from treating patients until he appears before the board to address these very serious charges.”

On July 7 Vecchione entered a Consent Order with the Board agreeing to continue to maintain infection control improvements he’d made after the state Department of Health and the Board inspected his practice twice in response to reports that three of his patients contracting bacterial endocarditis between 2012 and 2014.

Among the stipulations of the Consent Order were that Vecchione would implement additional infection prevention measures, including appropriate needle safety techniques, proper storage of medication, and use of strict aseptic technique when handling medications. The Order also stipulated that the Board reserved the right to bring disciplinary action against Vecchione upon receipt of reliable information that Vecchione had violated the terms of the Order.

On July 20 a final report by the DOH determined that 15 cases of bacterial endocarditis, a heart infection, contracted by Vecchione’s patients were associated with “breaches of infection prevention practices” at his office.

Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.

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By: Jay Edwards
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