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Dentist office gives patients an HIV scare

Dentist Office

Dentist office gives patients an HIV scare

By Boyce Watkins

     Medical facilities such as the doctor’s office, dentist’s office or hospital are considered to be safe and sterile. With so many diseases, germs and infectious bacteria in existence, it would seem like officials would go to extreme lengths to ensure that these infections did not spread among patients and lead to an outbreak.

    However, that was exactly the case in one Tulsa, Ok dentist’s office. Investigators were left speechless after a visit to W. Scott Harrington’s dental practice, where close to 7,000 people that have been visiting over the past six years may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV.

     “I will tell you that when … we left, we were just physically kind of sick. I mean, that’s how bad (it was), and I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff over the years”, says Susan Rogers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.

    Dental assistants were handling procedures that should only be done by a dentist, and the sterilization procedures for needles and other equipment were not being handled properly. Harrington’s office was a breeding ground for disease, there were numerous violations and Board of Dentistry Investigators described the office as the “perfect storm” for infections.

    Harrington also told investigators that he allowed un-licensed, unauthorized employees to perform intravenous sedation of patients, a process that requires precision to make sure that the dose is not too high or low during the patient’s procedure. The medicine cabinet in the office was unlocked and unattended; there was also no log available to keep track of who took drugs out of the cabinet.

    The worst part is that Harrington divulged that he had a high volume of HIV and Hepatitis patients who utilized his services. This was known to him, yet he still took no pre-cautions to insure the safety of his patients. The state says that they will provide free Hepatitis and HIV testing for thousands of patients who visited Harrington’s office.

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