Dentist Worked On Patients After Drinking Bottle of Vodka

By Kelly Burch 08/09/17

The dentist treated seven patients before his staff realized he was under the influence and stepped in to intervene.

Male dentist working on patient in dental chair

A dentist has been charged with public drunkenness and reckless endangerment because he worked on patients after consuming an entire bottle of vodka.

Gregory Bellotti, who works at Refresh Dental Management in Mars, Pennsylvania, reportedly worked on seven patients before his staff became so concerned with his “altered level of consciousness” that they called 911, according to The Associated Press

When authorities arrived Bellotti said he had drunk a bottle of vodka. He was so drunk that he had to be treated at an area hospital for alcohol poisoning. His blood alcohol level was .418, more than five times the legal limit for drivers, according to WSB-TV

According to the station, Bellotti was supposed to see 14 patients on the day that he turned up drunk on March 23. Staff members became concerned when they saw that he couldn’t complete simple tasks and then found him napping in an exam chair at about 2:30 p.m.

The state dental board has suspended Bellotti’s license and he is set to be arraigned on September 5. 

In 2013, a Long Island dentist was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment for working on patients while he was drunk. 

It is more common, however, for dentists to be associated with prescription drugs. The industry is under pressure to reevaluate how it handles prescription opioids, particularly those given after dental surgery. Dentists are responsible for 12% of opioid prescriptions. The American Dental Association recently updated its guidelines for opioid prescriptions and the use of powerful painkillers is generally being reevaluated in the profession. 

"I've been teaching my students that you have to be really, really careful with these drugs," said Dr. Elliot Hersh, a professor of pharmacology and oral surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. "That if you write too many of these prescriptions, for either good or bad intentions, either the state dental board and/or the DEA is going to come down on you."

Last fall a Hartford, Conn. dentist was charged with 45 counts of illegally prescribing controlled medications. Peter Delaney admitted that he wrote prescriptions for patients that he had never actually seen, and said that he included antibiotics with the opioid painkillers in order to avoid detection. Police were told that Delaney and his wife were also misusing opioids. He was held on a $1 million cash bail because he was considered a flight risk. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.