MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 5, 2013

State should inspect dentists


— The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry should begin random inspections of dental offices immediately.

The board recently accused a Tulsa oral surgeon of unsanitary practices, putting thousands of people at risk for hepatitis and HIV.

The board’s executive director says the board only inspects when they receive a complaint.

“There’s not been a need for these inspections because we’ve never had a complaint like this,” Susan Rogers told the Associated Press.

Oklahoma is not alone. Other states do not routinely inspect clinics.

Even with a small staff waiting until the board receives a complaint is too late.

Ask the 7,000 or so patients of Dr. W. Scott Harrington who received letters telling them they may have contracted a deadly disease whether waiting for a complaint is sufficient oversight.

We do not believe it is necessary to have yearly inspections.

But the threat of a random inspection should be enough to get any other unsanitary dentists to clean up their act in a hurry.

Every sanitary dentist should welcome a change in the board’s inspection policy.

The specter of Dr. Harrington’s alleged practices will taint other dentists until patients are reassured.

The easiest way to reassure patients is to begin random inspections.

This may be a one-in-a-million occurrence.

But the public will feel safer if changes are made immediately.