Did a Tulsa, Oklahoma clinic expose more than 7,000 patients to HIV and hepatitis?
Allegations surfaced on Thursday, March 28 that Dr. Scott W. Harrington, a dentist operating out of 2111 S. Atlanta Place or 12808 E. 86 Place in Owasso, Oklahoma, might have exposed thousands of former patients to HIV and hepatitis C. Harrington apparently engaged in numerous violations of health and safety laws, as well as violated Arizona's State Dental Act.
Coverage airing live on various news channels alleges that Dr. Harrington's practice did not comply with regulations concerning the cleanliness and and may have allowed dental assistants to perform medical procedures that they were unqualified or uncertified for. Investigators found a lack of sterilization, illegal administration of IV tubes by dental assistants, and a vial that had expired “20 years ago.”
After one patient contracted HIV from one of Harrington's facilities, the offices voluntarily closed down to cooperate with an investigation by the Tulsa Health Department, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and other officials. Patients who had undergone a procedure administered at one of Harrington's facilities since 2007 will receive a letter notifying them to report for disease testing.
So how big is the risk for the doctor's former patients?
"We know it's very, very rare. It doesn't happen easily, but the fact that there has been unsafe practices, we never know if transmission could occur," said Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Smart during a late-Thursday press conference.
According to FOX 23:
All testing will be done free of charge at the Tulsa Health Department’s North Regional Health and Wellness Center located at 5635 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Services will be provided on a walk-in basis starting on Saturday, March 30 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and will resume on Monday, April 1 from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 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.