Investigator Reveals New Details About Tulsa Dentist's 'Unsafe' Practices

Friday, April 5th 2013, 10:02 pm
By: News On 6

New details have emerged about how Dr. Scott Harrington's dental assistants put his patients under for surgery. The man in charge of the investigation into the dentist calls it illegal and highly unusual.

It's been more than a week since Dr. Harrington was called a menace to public health by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.

"It emotionally affected me the past couple of days," said Colby Pierce.

Pierce is one of thousands of former patients of Harrington who the state dental board says may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or even HIV. Pierce had all four of his wisdom teeth removed by Dr. Harrington in 2010.

4/3/2013 Related Story: Embattled Tulsa Dentist Releases Statement About Investigation

"It's just so scary that 7,000 people, and it may be even more than that, can be at risk for such a deadly disease," Pierce said.

Photos his mother took from inside the room where he had his surgery, show a dental assistant administering the IV sedation.

He said the only unusual memory from the surgery is when he fell out of his chair, but the chief investigator for the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry said there were several unusual procedures at Dr. Harrington's practice.

For example, Harrington's staff would wrap dental instruments in a cloth diaper and transport them from his Owasso office to his Tulsa office. The chief investigator said instruments are not supposed to go from building to building; that's how they can get contaminated.

"Just to me, doing that, that's horrible," Pierce said.

Harrington's dental assistants would also administer the IV to sedate the patients, which is against state law.

4/3/2013 Related Story: Former Patient Wants Apology From Tulsa Dentist Under Investigation

The chief investigator told us those dental assistants would just use a rule of thumb to determine how much anesthesia to administer, no formula or protocol, and just judging based on how heavy or light the patient looked, if it wasn't enough, the assistants would adjust by what felt right. Then, to determine if the patient was out, the dental assistants would ask them questions or flick the patients eyelashes to see if they would respond.

"That, to me, is pretty scary. There's certain things that you need to check for other than just flicking somebody's eye," Pierce said.

Pierce had blood tests Thursday. He expects the results in two weeks.

The chief investigator also said that Dr. Harrington would transfer drugs from one office to another, which is in violation of federal law.