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Dental compliance checks


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Updated: 4/01/2013 10:03 am Published: 3/29/2013 6:14 pm


Health concerns and anger have some of the patients of Dr. Scott Harrington talking to lawyers.

Harrington is the Tulsa dental surgeon under investigation for alleged health and safety violations that could have exposed patients to Hepatitis B, C and HIV.

In an e-mail statement, a Tulsa-based law firm tells FOX23 News, “It’s too early to know if the situation will be ripe for a class action lawsuit,” said Gary L. Richardson.

That will depend on the impact of the allegations and other factors.

Doctor Harrington was nowhere to be found at his office or at his home. The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry says Harrington never had a violation until this month.

"I was a wreck when I heard this,” said Owens.

She heard her oral surgeon Dr. Scott Harrington was being investigated for possibly exposing at least 7,000 patients to infectious material.

The Tulsa Health Department and the Oklahoma Board of Dental (BOD) reports they found unsanitary equipment, exposed needles and dental assistants giving IVs and anesthesia without a license.

"I'm very, very scared especially in light of the equipment and unsanitary conditions, you know it doesn't take but just one time,” said former patient Deborah Lewis.

FOX23 News knocked on Dr. Harrington’s door at his listed home address but no one answered. His office in midtown was closed on Friday.

FOX23 News also went to one of the assistant’s home listed in the violations, but she did not answer.

The BOD told FOX23 News over the phone offices performing anesthesia are inspected every three years.

Executive Director for the BOD, Sharon Rogers, says inspections never uncovered any problems but it was a narrow inspection and they weren’t looking other possible violations.

The board reports in the 36 years Harrington has been practicing he has had a clean record.

Rogers says because of case overload, dental offices are only investigated when there is a complaint. She assures the community this is a rare case and 99.9% of dental offices are sanitary

“It's still scary, real scary,” said Owens.

Although Owens knows it’s a very slim chance of this type of transmission is rare, she wants protection.

“I think it was sad that he didn't oversee, how should I say that? Cleaning, the cleaning process" said Owens.

An oral surgeon who didn’t want to be identified told FOX23 News it comes down to ethics and protecting patients.

“Something needs to be done. I don't want to see someone else go through this. It's scary," said Owens.

Rogers says they are looking at making recommendations to lawmakers to change regulations. One option the Board is considering is requiring dental assistance to pass an infectious control class before working in a dental office.

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