Allegations of Uncleanliness at Tulsa Dentist's Office
By Burt Mummolo
His name is affixed prominently on the side of his building for the world to see, Scott Harrington, but the world may never see it quite the same. "This is unprecedented, unprecedented," said Susan Rogers, director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, stunned at her findings during a recent inspection of Dr. Harrington's office after concerns that a patient may have contracted HIV and Hepatitis C due to allegedly unsafe practices. "One of the most flagrant violations for us was that he was allowing his dental assistants to do IV sedation," she said.That, she said, is a felony. As to the cleanliness of the dental instruments?"The instruments that came out of the autoclave were horrible, I wouldn't let my nephews play with them in the dirt," she said.An autoclave is the name device used to sterilize equipment."We have two autoclaves," said Tulsa dentist Claud McKee, reading over the long and detailed list of alleged wrongdoings of Dr. Harrington."It's a very sad circumstance to read about," he said.One allegation says Dr. Harrington kept two separate sets of instruments, one for patients known to have infectious diseases, and another set for people believed to be disease free."It's difficult to see the value of two sets of instruments, because all instruments should be treated the same," said Dr. McKee.As for the autoclave itself, investigators say it was supposed to be tested monthly to ensure it was properly sterilizing, but that according to an office worker, no such test had been done in at least six years. By comparison, a printout at Dr. McKee's shows frequent testing."We send them in weekly," he said.At Harrington's home Thursday afternoon, no one was at the residence, but scores of his patients will soon be receiving letters at their own homes warning them that they may be at risk for Hepatitis B, C and HIV. "Patient records dating back to 2007 have been obtained, numbering approximately 7,000 patients," said Dr. Christy Bradley of the Oklahoma Department of Health. So far, officials say, the infected count stands at one. How high do they think it could climb? "I don't want to speculate. I'm very concerned about how many more there may be. I'm praying that there's not very many more but the health department and I will tell, when the health department investigators left we were just physically kind of sick, that's how bad, and I've seen a lot of bad stuff over the year," said Rogers.
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