MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

April 26, 2013

Eight new cases of hepatitis C in dental scare

TULSA  (AP) — Eight more patients of an Oklahoma oral surgeon whose clinics were deemed unsanitary have tested positive for hepatitis C, but health officials cautioned Thursday that it would be highly unusual for them to have contracted the illnesses at his clinic.

Tulsa’s Health Department reported that the new positive tests bring the total number of Dr. W. Scott Harrington’s patients who have tested positive for hepatitis C to 65. Nearly 3,600 patients have been tested so far in county health clinics throughout the state.

Last week, Tulsa health officials announced that three patients had tested positive for hepatitis B and one or two for HIV. Officials noted in their investigation that Harrington’s staff had said they knew several patients came to the clinic already infected.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says spreading disease at a dental clinic is extremely rare, with just three known cases in two decades.

Authorities urged Harrington’s roughly 7,000 patients to get tested last month after finding unsanitary conditions at his two Tulsa-area clinics, including varying cleaning procedures for equipment, needles re-inserted in drug vials after their initial use, drug vials used on multiple patients and no written infection-protection procedure.

A message left after-hours with a spokeswoman for the Tulsa Health Department was not immediately returned Thursday, nor was a message left for Harrington’s attorney. Previously, his attorney said Harrington was cooperating with investigators and noted that his previous record with the state’s dental board was “impeccable.”

Harrington, who has been a dentist for 36 years, voluntarily surrendered his credentials on March 20. He faces an Aug. 16 license revocation hearing.

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