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
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 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