A Tulsa, Oklahoma oral surgeon, W.Scott Harrington, egregious practices in sterilizing instruments and all-around unsanitary conditions in his dental practice has resulted in at least 60 of his patients contracting serious illnesses. The possibility of many more patients having contracted illness is a distinct possibility.
While investigators are trying to pinpoint all of the potential ways in which Dr. Harrington’s patients were infected, the investigation so far has revealed that old needles and rusty instruments were used in treating patients. Susan Rodgers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, said that what they saw at the Dentist’s office made the investigators “physically kind of sick.”
Because Harrington performed dental surgery including wisdom teeth removal which is invasive, patients may have been introduced to infection from unsanitary equipment through their tissue, blood and bones.
7,000 of W. Scott Harrington’s patients have received letters recommended they be tested for illness including hepatitis b, hepatitis B and HIV. So far, 3,122 patients have been tested and it has been determined that 60 people have tested positive for a virus.
Three patients have tested positive for hepatitis B which is an inflammatory illness of the liver which can cause acute liver inflammation and may eventually cause cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Symptoms of the illness begins with poor health, loss of appetite, vomiting, body aches, fever and later develops into jaundice.
One patient tested positive for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) which is the virus known to cause AIDS which is a life-threatening failure of a person’s immune system.
Fifty-seven patients have tested positive for hepatitis c which can lead to inflammation of the liver, cirrhosis, and lead to liver failure, liver cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.
The dentistry board began investigating the 64-year-old dental surgeon after the health department traced a hepatitis C infection back to his office. When investigators came into his office they found:
- Dental assistants performing procedures such as IV sedation which should only be performed by dentists.
- Drugs with expired dates dating back 20 years.
- Dental assistants without a proper license.
- Rusty dental instruments
- Unsanitary conditions
- Lack of records to show that the autoclave, a device used to sterilize equipment and supplies, had not been tested for more than six years.
At least one patient has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against Harrington.
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