Oklahoma May Expand Tests if Dentist Spread Disease

Oklahoma health officials are looking at many options after an oral surgeon’s unsanitary conditions.

Medical tests will be considered for W. Scott Harrington’s patients’ spouses and sex partners if the lab results reveal the spread of hepatitis or AIDS.

It’s not common for these infections to be spread through a dental practice. Nevertheless, Tulsa and Oklahoma health departments are recommending blood tests for signs of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV for all of the patients. Around 1,500 had done so as of last Wednesday.

The Tulsa Health Department stated the many spouses and significant others were seeking medical testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recorded just three instances when infectious diseases spread in a dental office.

The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry filed a complaint with 17 counts against Harrington. The board said his clinics in Tulsa and Owasso disregarded basic safety practices mandatory by law.

For more information about the initial story, view last week's Wednesday Watch.

Based on information from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, Harrington’s practice included patients with infectious diseases.

Despite the regular appearance of Harrington’s office, his employees used rusty instruments on patients known to have infections, reused drug vials without changing needles and unlicensed assistants sedated patients. Drugs in the office were also outdated and there was uncertified sterilization equipment that was at least 6 years old.

Health officials looked through Harrington’s office after investigating the case for one of his patients. This patient had a hepatitis C infection.

The board wanted to stress how rare this case is and how well the dental profession manages infection control overall.



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