MOUNT OLIVE — A Morris County oral surgeon whose office was associated with 15 cases of a serious bacteria in 2016 has agreed to have his license suspended for five years and pay more than $293,000 in penalties and costs.

Dr. John Vecchione was temporarily suspended in August 2016 over allegations he kept an unsanitary office and failed to follow infection control protocols that exposed his patients to the risk of contracting bacterial endocarditis, a serious heart infection, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Among the problems in Vecchione's office in the Budd Lake section were not using sterile water or sterile saline during surgical procedures, improperly handling and storing single-dose medication vials, non-sterile preparation of instruments, and improper handling and disposal of needles and syringes, according to the complaint against Vecchione.

Twelve of the 15 patients required heart surgery and one of them died, according to Grewal.

Vecchione denied all the allegations until he was ready to take the stand at his trial but agreed to settle the case instead, Grewal said. The suspension is retroactive to Aug. 31, 2016, when his temporary suspension started.

He also must successfully complete state Board of Dentistry-approved courses in office management, record-keeping, and infection control practices, procedures, implementation and maintenance. He must also complete an ethics course for medical professionals.

“This settlement brings closure to a troubling case in which a medical professional allegedly took irresponsible risks with patients’ health by disregarding health and safety standards,” Grewal said. “We are committed to ensuring that medical practitioners do not flout professional standards in place to protect patients’ health and safety.”

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