CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News UpdateOKLAHOMA: HIV Test Urged for 7,000 Oklahoma Dental Patients
March 29, 2013
CBC News (03.28.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
On March 28, the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry said that state and county health inspectors visited the practice of oral surgeon Dr. W. Scott Harrington in Tulsa, Okla., after a patient without other known risk factors tested positive for both hepatitis C and HIV. During their inspection, they found cross-contamination of instruments and the use of a separate, rusty set of instruments for patients known to carry infectious diseases. Harrington has voluntarily closed both his practice in Tulsa and in suburban Oswasso and is cooperating with investigators. According to a dentistry board complaint, Harrington and his staff told investigators that a “high population of known infectious disease carrier patients” received dental care from him. The complaint also stated that a device used to sterilize dental instruments was not working properly and that a dental assistant who had been working for the practice for 6 years had never once witnessed the dentist or other staff perform a test that was supposed to be performed monthly and sent to a lab to determine if this device was successfully sterilizing the equipment. Officials are sending letters to encourage testing for hepatitis B and C as well as HIV to the 7,000 patients who have received treatment at Harrington’s clinics in Tulsa and Owasso since 2007, but they do not have information for individuals who may have been treated before that time; Harrington has been practicing for 36 years. Harrington will attend a hearing on April 19 and could lose his license. The Tulsa Health Department’s North Regional Health and Wellness Center will offer free testing for patients.