Skip to main content

7,000 warned of potential HIV, hepatitis exposure

By CNN Staff
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Those who visited a Tulsa, Oklahoma, dentist since 2007 may have been exposed
  • An investigation into the dental practice showed numerous violations
  • The Tulsa Health Department is offering free testing for hepatitis and HIV
  • Health department: "Transmission in this type of occupational setting is rare"

(CNN) -- Some 7,000 patients of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, dental practice were being notified they could have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis over the past six years, health authorities said Thursday.

Dentist W. Scott Harrington voluntarily stopped practicing when the joint investigation by the Tulsa Health Department and the Oklahoma State Department of Health began, the Tulsa agency said in a statement. "The dentist is cooperating with investigators through his attorney," the department said.

According to the State Board of Dentistry, the investigation into Harrington's practice found "numerous violations of health and safety laws and major violations of the State Dental Act," the health department said.

While the statement did not elaborate, the department said investigators with the state dental board "have been assisted by agents from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration concerning the maintenance, control and use of drugs on the premises."

The investigation, it said, is "multifaceted and ongoing."

Patients who have seen Harrington since 2007 will be notified by letter. It is recommended they be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, the health department said. Harrington worked in the Tulsa suburb of Owasso.

"Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV are serious medical conditions, and infected patients may not have outward symptoms of the disease for many years," the health department said.

"As a precaution, and in order to take appropriate steps to protect their health, it is important for these patients to get tested. It should be noted that transmission in this type of occupational setting is rare."

Callers to Harrington's office heard a recording stating the office was currently closed. CNN spoke to an emergency page representative, who said she believed the closure was temporary.

The page representative said Harrington was not available unless a caller had a dental emergency.

Patient information is available only from the past seven years, the department said. Those who saw Harrington before 2007 may not receive a letter.

Testing will be done free of charge at the health department starting Saturday and resuming on Monday, the statement said. A hotline has been set up for people with questions about the notifications.

Police: Doctor killed 7 to free up beds

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
September 21, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1444 GMT (2244 HKT)
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT