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Oklahoma Dentist May Have Exposed Patients to HIV, Hepatitis

Like we needed another reason to hate going to the dentist?

One Oklahoma dentist, Dr. W. Scott Harrington has surrendered his license after at least 60 of his patients tested positive for hepatitis or HIV. Instead of following board protocol for the sterilization of his tools, Dr. Harrington allegedly used rusted tools that were contaminated with diseases in the mouths of his unsuspecting patients, reports ABC World News.

Of more than 7,000 letters that were sent out to patients of Dr. Harrington’s Tulsa and Owasso clinics, 3,122 people have been tested, and sadly, 57 people tested positive for hepatitis C, three for hepatitis B, and one even tested positive for HIV.

It’s so scary to think that a quick trip to the dentist for a cleaning could be a life-threatening experience, however state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said that the state is still investigating the source of the infections.

“The next phase [of the investigation] will include more in-depth interviews of persons who test positive to determine the likelihood that their exposure is associated with their dental surgical procedure at the Harrington practice. We will certainly continue to keep the public informed as we learn more,” said Bradley.

In a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry after a positive HIV test was revealed, the state discovered the doctor had been using old needles, rusty instruments, as well as putting bleach on patients’ wounds until they “turned white.”

Board president Susan Rogers said, “The basic things that everyone knows — follow CDC guidelines, use clean syringes, don’t reuse multi-dose vials in multiple patients, don’t use rusted equipment — those are things even non-physicians knows.”

Since the report was released, Dr. Harrington has turned in his state dental license and may face criminal charges if authorities can link the positive test results back to his practice.

Source: ABC World News

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04.20.2013 / 04:31 AM EDT by Jo Aaron
Related: Moms, Health

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