Harrington Case: Health Officials Link Hepatitis C to Clinic

Oklahoma health officials say a dentist's office shut down for unsafe practices last spring is responsible for the first known transmission of hepatitis C from one dental patient to another.

The state epidemiologist said Tuesday that genetic testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that the virus was passed at the Tulsa-area offices of Dr. W. Scott Harrington.

Health officials said the use of unsanitary equipment led to cross-contamination between patients.

But State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley stressed that visits to the dentist remain safe.

Oklahoma health officials in March asked that 7,000 of Harrington's patients be tested for infectious diseases. More than 4,000 patients were tested at state clinics. Only one patient-to-patient contamination was confirmed.The Health Department reported that 89 patients tested positive for Hepatitis C, five tested positive for Hepatitis B, and four tested positive for HIV. However, health officials recognize some results are not from the dental practice. The state's lab processed 4,202 results.Executive Director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Susan Rogers said officials' findings may have saved lives. She said Harrington is still scheduled to go before the board to learn whether or not he can keep his dental license in January.Rogers confirmed to Channel 8 that Harrington's lawyer has filed a motion that includes a concern about her acting as a prosecutor and witness in Harrington's dental board hearing. She said that has always been the case."I obviously never intended to be the prosecutor and the witness at the same time," Rogers said. She said she is an investigator in this case and that has not changed.Channel 8 reached out to Harrington's lawyer for comment on the case and did not immediately hear back.The Associated Press contributed to this article.