Washington State Department of Health

A Chehalis dentist was charged with unprofessional conduct by the state Department of Health last month, after a commission alleged a dental procedure left a patient susceptible to further complications and with a portion of a dental tool embedded in the mouth.

John Pham, according to a statement of charges filed by the DOH, has the option to defend himself against the charge or risk the imposition of sanctions.

According to the charging document, in September 2016, Pham conducted a procedure to remove four molars from one patient. Fragments of one of the teeth became displaced, and were unable to be removed.

Pham recommended the patient return for a follow-up appointment.

In October 2016, the patient returned with discomfort and difficulty swallowing. A second attempt at removing the fragments was unsuccessful, and documents read that a tip from a dental tool was found “in the bone near the extraction site” of one of the teeth.

The patient returned a third time with an infection.

State health officials accuse Pham of failing “to recognize his instrument was broken and left behind near the extraction site of (a tooth) at the initial extraction appointment or failed to advise (the patient) of this … to recognize that more than one portion of (a tooth) was retained at the initial extraction or failed to advise (the patient) of this.”

Additionally, officials allege he “did not recognize the severity, size, and location of the root portion being forced into the submandibular space with resultant infections, patient injury, and potential long-term complications” and “failed to timely refer the patient to a specialist.”

Pham was charged with unprofessional conduct due to “incompetence, negligence or malpractice which results in injury to a patient or which creates an unreasonable risk that a patient may be harmed.”

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