The Newsday headline last Wednesday read “Dentist was Drunk.” The story is about a Lindenhurst dentist who apparently performed dental work on a patient while he was intoxicated. He had been seen sipping vodka from a squeeze bottle right before seeing the patient. His staff called the police, and the dentist was arrested on charges of second-degree reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. The dental assistant and hygienist had noticed that the dentist’s behavior had been deteriorating for several months, and in September they called his wife because he “smelled like alcohol and could barely stand up and treat a patient.”
The New York State Department of Education licenses dentists. Dental practitioners found violating professional ethics may be reprimanded, fined, face a suspension of their license or have their license revoked. I am sad to read that a dental colleague would so endanger his patients and not seek treatment for his problem. But I am proud of the dental assistant and hygienist who took the bold step of calling the authorities so no further damage could be done. They were truly self-sacrificing as I would imagine that they will no longer be working in that office – and this is a tight job market. Well – my patients can rest assured: I never drink alcohol – caffeinated tea is enough of a stimulant!