Skip to main content

7,000 warned of potential HIV, hepatitis exposure

By CNN Staff
updated 7:02 PM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
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
updated 1:20 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
updated 1:32 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT