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Friday Is Last Day Of Testing For Patients Of Embattled Tulsa Dentist

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Friday, June 28 is the last day for free Tulsa Health Department testing of the more than 7,000 patients who were notified of the claims against the dentist. Friday, June 28 is the last day for free Tulsa Health Department testing of the more than 7,000 patients who were notified of the claims against the dentist.
Dr. W. Scott Harrington is facing 17 allegations from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry due to health and safety violations levied against his practice. Dr. W. Scott Harrington is facing 17 allegations from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry due to health and safety violations levied against his practice.
"I can't imagine being in that position and being told that you might be exposed to these pathogens," Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said. "I can't imagine being in that position and being told that you might be exposed to these pathogens," Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Dr. W. Scott Harrington is accused of using unsanitary practices at his Tulsa and Owasso clinics, which potentially could have spread hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV to patients.

Friday is the last day for free Tulsa Health Department testing of the more than 7,000 patients who were notified of the claims against the dentist.

The tests have been conducted in waves.

Health leaders on Thursday reported one additional HIV positive result, which means four people total.

Seventy-seven patients have tested positive for hepatitis C, and five for hepatitis B.

An investigation into Harrington's practice found numerous violations of health and safety laws and major violations of the State Dental Act, the department said. Dental Board investigators 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, according to the board.

Harrington is facing 17 allegations from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry due to health and safety violations levied against his practice.

6/27/2013 Related Story: Tulsa County Dentist May Have Exposed 7,000 Patients To HIV, Hepatitis

Harrington has been seen in Tulsa this week, but no one answered the door at his Tulsa dental practice or his home. In the meantime, health leaders are winding down their free testing of Harrington's Patients.

"I can't imagine being in that position and being told that you might be exposed to these pathogens," Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said.

Over the past few months, thousands of people who were patients at Harrington's clinics and could have been exposed to blood-borne diseases have been tested at health departments statewide.

Many others have been tested through their private doctors.

"I really give a lot of credit to that group of patients and how they handled it," Dart said. "Hopefully, for the most part, we'll have great outcomes."

Dart said with a drop in people being tested, Friday will be the last day for testing.

Strategy now moves from the clinical portion of their response, to an investigation into Harrington's patients who tested positive to see if exposure came from the dental practice or from other risk factors.

"To try to connect those dots and develop more information as to where possible exposure may have taken place," he said.

Epidemiologists from the local and state health departments who do infectious disease investigations will gather the additional information.

They won't release case-by-case investigation outcomes until all cases have been investigated and a final report is issued, which could be some time.

"It's going to take several months because there are so many people and we have a limited staff, and the state has limited staff," Dart said.

Health leaders say the number of people testing positive for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV reflects about what you would find in the general population.

It's important to point out that it is extremely rare in the U.S. for a virus to be transmitted during a dental procedure.

Patients who were treated between Sept. 20 and March 20, and have already been tested, still need to be tested again in six months, since it sometimes takes a while for viruses to be detected.

The health department will still provide that testing for free.

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