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Patient Infected With Hepatitis C Urges Tulsa Dental Patients To Get Tested

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Norman resident Barbara Burlingame said she knows what the 7,000 people investigators say may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis are going through. Norman resident Barbara Burlingame said she knows what the 7,000 people investigators say may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis are going through.
"I wish I could just go stand in line with them and hug everyone of them," Burlingame said. "I wish I could just go stand in line with them and hug everyone of them," Burlingame said.
The exposure led to several months off work, 12 months of treatment similar to chemotherapy, and what she calls a year of Hell. The exposure led to several months off work, 12 months of treatment similar to chemotherapy, and what she calls a year of Hell.
NORMAN, Oklahoma -

An Oklahoma woman is urging all of Dr. Scott Harrington's patients to get tested, as she went through a similar situation a decade ago, which changed her life forever.

Norman resident Barbara Burlingame said she knows what the 7,000 people investigators say may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis are going through.

The Tulsa County Health Department reports that 559 patients were screened Monday as part of a special testing clinic for former patients of Dr. W. Scott Harrington. Officials say 420 people were tested Saturday.

When she heard about the allegations, Burlingame said it brought back memories from 2002.

"I just literally, just sat in the chair for an hour and a half and started crying," Burlingame said.

Eleven years ago, she was getting injections for back pain and got hepatitis C, because a health worker reused tainted needles.

"You're so mad, you're scared to death, you're angry, you feel betrayal. You don't know what to do, and on top of that, you don't feel very well," Burlingame said.

4/1/2013 Related Story: Former Patient Says Tulsa Dentist Allowed Assistant To Administer IV Sedation

The exposure led to several months off work, 12 months of treatment similar to chemotherapy, and what she calls a year of Hell.

"How could somebody, in this day and age, not know that you shouldn't reuse a needle?" Burlingame said.

With what she's been through, she said she's heartsick over what so many in the Tulsa area are now facing.

"I wish I could just go stand in line with them and hug everyone of them," Burlingame said.

Short of being alongside them, Burlingame said she wants those patients to know how important it is to get tested.

"The sooner you get tested and get the results, God forbid, if something did happen, the sooner you can look at getting treatment," she said.

3/28/2013 Related Story: State Board Says Tulsa Dentist's Practice Was Unsafe, Unsanitary

Burlingame said she's fortunate her treatment has been effective. With thousands left to be tested, she said she shares their anxiety and their frustration of being put in jeopardy by someone they trusted.

"I would like every one of those people to be able to line up and get to smack him at least once, I really would," Burlingame said. "I know that may sound bad, but I think he should go to jail."

Burlingame said it's also important for those patients to get counseling, even if tests show they weren't infected, because she said some will now be anxious about going to the doctor for the rest of their lives.

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