Tulsa Dentist At Center Of Health Scare Surrenders License

Friday, August 22nd 2014, 10:54 am
By: Craig Day

A Tulsa dentist whose offices were shut down after unclean conditions led to the testing of thousands of patients for HIV and hepatitis has surrendered his professional license permanently.

Dr. Scott Harrington wasn't at the the State Board of Dentistry meeting Friday, but his attorney did attend. It's welcome news for many of the thousands of scared patients who were told they needed to be tested, but not for all of them.

When Doctor Scott Harrington's clinics in Tulsa and Owasso were closed in March of last year, state health leaders urged about 7,000 of his current and former patients to get tested for Hepatitis and HIV.

Former patient Colton Scott says it was scary.

"That time period between when we got tested and when we got the results back, we didn't know," he said. "We had no idea what was going to come back, no idea if it would come back positive; that's terrifying."

Health officials say investigators found rusty instruments and potentially contaminated drug vials at Harrington's clinics. They say a machine designed to sterilize tools wasn't being used properly.

Read Oklahoma Board of Dentistry complaint against Scott Harrington

More than 4,200 patients were tested at state clinics, but health officials determined that only one individual contracted a disease, hepatitis C, at the clinics.

Former patient Colton Scott, whose test results were fine, remembers how scary it was waiting on those results to come back. 

"Simply put, it's about time. I mean you would think that's one of the first things he would do, especially if he's suspected of something like this. I would think that's the first thing he needs to do is turn it over. But it's good now, that it's done and this is not going to be a risk for anyone else and no one has to worry about it now," said Colton Scott.

When the clinics were shut down, Harrington voluntarily gave up his license. His attorney said they would fight to get his license back, but on Friday he gave it up for good.

9/18/2013 Related Story: Health Officials: Hepatitis C Case Linked To Tulsa Dental Surgeon

Health workers were only able to tie one case of Hepatitis C to the clinics. That's why former patient Joyce Baylor doesn't think he should stop practicing. Baylor had been Harrington's patient for 15 years and says his offices were always clean and professional.

"Whoever disagrees with me, I'm sorry, but one mistake, it doesn't constitute giving up your license," she said. "He was a wonderful person, good doctor and compassionate. So I'm disappointed. I thought he would be reinstated and not have to give his license up," she said.

Baylor says instead, the one person who tested positive should file a malpractice suit.

"How many doctors make mistakes - they don't give up their license," said Joyce Baylor, a former Harrington patient.

Other patients, like Scott, say just surrendering a license isn't enough.

"Punish him to the highest extent, whatever they can do, give it to him," he said.

That one positive Hepatitis case is the only transmission of Hepatitis C between patients ever confirmed at a dental office.