Local Dentist May Have Exposed Patients to Risk of Blood-borne Infection

Mar 28, 2013

State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley, Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Executive Director Susan Rogers and Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart encourage anyone potentially exposed to visit the Health Department's free clinic.
Credit KWGS News

The Tulsa Health Department is notifying patients of dentist Scott Harrington of a potential of infection from hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.

The Health Department’s Dr. Bruce Dart says they’re sending notices to patients from 2007 and later, but that any patient of Harrington’s should get tested at the free clinic to be set up by the Health Department.

“If you’ve ever been a patient of Dr. Harrington’s, come to our clinic,” Dart said.

The clinic will be open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, and then regular hours will be 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The clinic is located at the North Regional Health and Wellness Center located at 5635 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Health officials were alerted to the situation after a patient of Dr. Harrington’s came down with hepatitis C.

Subsequent inspections uncovered numerous serious health and safety violations in Dr. Harrington’s office.

The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry says nationwide, the case seems unprecedented.

“There just isn’t any confirmed cases ever of a hep-C, so far, case being transmitted within a dental office,” said Susan Rogers, Board of Dentistry Executive Director. “That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen occasionally.”

The Health Department says transmission of these types of viruses is overall very rare.

“We do not do regular checks,” about the types of violations found at Harrington’s office, Rogers said. “We work on a complaint basis only, by our statutes.”

“Obviously we have discussions going on about some things we may end up changing,” she said.

She said regular inspections the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry does conduct would not have uncovered the violations present in Harrington’s practice.

Notices are going out to Dr. Harrington’s known patients, based on records that date back to 2007. That amounts to about 7000 patients.

Harrington, however, has been operating in Tulsa for over 30 years, so any past patient of his is encouraged to come to the free clinic, or call a hotline number, (918) 595-4500.

The Health Department stresses, this is not an outbreak.