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Unsanitary Conditions in Tulsa Dentist’s Office Could Have Exposed 7,000 to HIV, Hepatitis

Filed April 1st, 2013 edlieber1

Dirty working conditions at a dentist’s office near Tulsa, Oklahoma, have left 7,000 people potentially infected with hepatitis or HIV.

Investigators found conditions to be both unsanitary and unprofessional at Scott Harrington’s dentist office in Owasso. One official said the conditions of the office created a perfect storm for infections, said. As of Saturday, 420 of the 7,000 patients had been tested; they expect to get their results in around two weeks.

Harrington gave up his dental license on March 20 after investigators found violations, including problems with staffing and sterilization. Investigators, for example, found that unauthorized employees were using IVs to sedate patients, and the needles were not always used properly.

The investigation was launched after one of Harrington’s patients tested positive for hepatitis C, said.

Investigators also discovered issues with how drugs were stored. Included in the drug cabinet, for instance, was a drug that had expired in 1993; records also indicated that morphine was used on patients until as late as 2012, despite the fact that the office had not received shipments of the drug since 2009.

HIV destroys a body’s immune system, rendering it unable to fight off infections.  If the condition goes untreated it can develop into full blown AIDS, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Hepatitis, also a very serious disease, refers to inflammation or viral infections of a person’s liver. It most commonly comes in types A,B and C. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, nearly 4.4 million Americans have chronic hepatitis, and many of them don’t even know it.

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