Tulsa Dentist Puts 7,000 at Risk for HIV, Hepatitis
As many as 7,000 patients of a Tulsa dentist may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV since 2007 through allegedly rusty and improperly sterilized medical instruments and reuse of needles.
After the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry heard of an infected patient of Dr. Wayne Scott Harrington, they conducted a surprise investigation of his practice on March 18, reported ABC News. The Board found Dr. Harrington allegedly regularly reused unsanitary dental tools on a number of infected patients and also poured bleach on wounds until they “turned white.” He is also accused of allowing unlicensed dental assistants to administer medication.
Dr. Harrington, who surrendered his license to practice on March 20, was a Medicaid provider, meaning he served a high proportion of patients with HIV or hepatitis, Susan Rogers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, told ABC. Harrington faces 17 allegations from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry pertaining to health and safety violations, reported NewsOn6.com. The Tulsa County District Attorney will take over the investigation after testing of patients begins and may charge Harrington and members of his staff with multiple felonies.
The health department has set up free testing locations for the thousands of Harrington’s patients who are at risk of these blood-borne diseases, and is mailing letters to patients who had procedures at Harrington's office locations (on South Atlanta Place in Tulsa and on East 86th Place North in Owasso) recommending they get tested.
"Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are serious medical conditions and infected patients may not have outward symptoms of the disease for many years," a news release said. "As a precaution, and in order to take appropriate steps to protect their health, it is important for these patients to get tested."
Free testing will be held at the at the Tulsa Health Department's North Regional Health and Wellness Center located at 5635 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on a walk-in basis starting on Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and will resume on Monday, April 1 from 8 a.m.–6 p.m. In addition, the health department has set up a hotline at 918 -595-4500 for people with questions about this notification or hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.