The Children's Dental Group infected over 100 Children.
Personal Injury trial attorney Catherine Lombardo from Claremont, California Changed California Dental Laws - The Children’s Dental Group on Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim California infected over 100 children in 2016 by performing pulpotomies and exposing their young patients to infected water. The water lines inside the clinic spread the mycobacterium absceccus infection throughout the Orange County, California population. Attorney Catherine Lombardo was the first lawyer to take formal legal action on the suspicious outbreak, when she was met by parents of children with the first reported cases treating at Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Personal injury attorney Lombardo launched an investigation and filed the first lawsuits against CDG on behalf of many of the children. Ms. Lombardo’s lawsuits sparked the interest of the local and national press. Lombardo contacted the Orange County Department of Health, which then conducted further investigation. The Children’s Dental Group was shut down by the County health department, then reopened, then shut down again when a surprise test proved that the lines were still dirty with the dangerous fast growing, highly resistant aggressive bacteria.
This multi-plaintiff tort litigation launched by Ms. Lombardo caught the attention of the California Legislature, which immediately went into session to protect children from possible future harm by creating and enacting an unprecedented new law:
Business and Professions Code Section 1601.6 as follows - 1601.6. (a) Consistent with and in addition to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for water quality, the board shall amend the regulations on the minimum standards for infection control (Section 1005 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations) to require water or other methods used for irrigation to be sterile or contain recognized disinfecting or antibacterial properties when performing dental procedures that expose dental pulp.
This new law creates minimum standards for infection control and water quality. The law mandates sterile water to be used in the children’s dental clinics. The new law applies to all dentists, registered dental assistants, and registered dental assistants in extended functions (RDAEFs).
The law mandates the water “to be sterile or contain recognized disinfecting or antibacterial properties when performing dental procedures that expose dental pulp…” The author of the bill said, "[This bill] seeks to minimize the odds of another outbreak like the one that has occurred in Orange County. While such outbreaks have been rare, [this bill] proposes significant changes to existing law to strengthen protections for vulnerable populations such as the young children who have been treated by the [Children’s Dental Group] CDG. The pain and trauma suffered by these young children are inexcusable and unforgiveable…”
Mycobacterium abscessus infections were caused by CDG when it unnecessarily performed multiple pulpotomies on children who received Medi-cal and Denti-cal benefits. Mycobacteria abscessus are organisms that are commonly found in water, soil and dust. This bacterium is known to cause a whole list of infections to the lungs, skin, bones and soft tissues. The dental clinic reaped millions of dollars by performing these procedures on the unsuspecting children, as reported by CBS Special Reports with David Goldstein. A pulpotomy, also called a baby root canal, is a procedure where pulp tissue of a tooth is removed to sometimes save an unhealthy tooth. These bacterial infections caused many children to be hospitalized, treated with elite powerful antibiotics, and have surgery to have teeth or sections of their jaws removed.
A letter from the director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, Mark A. Refowitz, said “… It should be made clear that the municipal water supply in Anaheim meets all bacterial standards (and all other water quality standards) for use by the public.” “Water samples taken from inside the dental office indicated that mycobacterium type was present inside the facility’s on-site water system…”