A dental office in Oklahoma has shut down after health officials discovered that the dentist was using unsanitary equipment and procedures, leading to the hepatitis C and B infections of dozens of patients, as well as one HIV infection.
Dr. Scott Harrington Oral and Facial Surgery clinic put 7,000 patients' health at risk by using the unsanitary equipment.
The unsanitary conditions were discovered after one of his patients went to state health officials and told them they had developed hepatitis C after going to the dentist. The patient had not been exposed to any other risk factors.
When they inspected the clinic, they found that he was using unsafe and unsanitary equipment and procedures. There were also many unlicensed employees administering IVs and needles were not being handled properly. He was using expired medication as well.
They shut down his clinic and Harrington surrendered his license.
"I will tell you that when we left, we were just physically kind of sick," Susan Rogers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, said. "That's how bad it was, and I've seen a lot of bad stuff over the years."
There have been 60 dental patients testing positive for hepatitis C and B so far, but health officials expect that number to rise. There was also one patient who tested positive for HIV. Around 3,200 of his patients went in for testing.
Because hepatitis and HIV can go undetected in initial tests, officials are urging those who have been tested to be tested again in six months.
Officials will be interviewing those that contracted the diseases to discover if they did contract it from the clinic or if it was contracted elsewhere.
"This is a complex investigation," state epidemiologist Kristy Bradley said. "The next phase 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."
Harrington is expected to appear at a revocation hearing before the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry on August 16.
Former patients of Harrington's are encouraged to contact Oklahoma's patient information hotline at 918-595-4500.