OSDH: Testing Important, but HIV, Hep B & C Spreading in Offices Rare

Mar 29, 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 Catherine Roberts / KWGS News - Public Radio Tulsa

Oklahoma’s dental board says it may start promoting routine inspections of dental and oral surgeon clinics.

Health officials in Tulsa are setting up free testing clinics for 7,000 dental patients who may have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.

Patients of oral surgeon W. Scott Harrington since 2007 are receiving letters from health officials encouraging them to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Health inspectors found rusted and dirty instruments being used on patients. They also say the staff reused needles.

Two site visits found that dental assistants were administering IV medications, a felony under Oklahoma law. The investigation began after a former patient with no identifiable risk factors, contracted hepatitis and HIV.

Harrington voluntarily closed his practice and is now cooperating with investigators. Health authorities say it is rare for infections to spread in occupational settings, like dental offices, but testing is important.