TULSA - Dozens of former patients of oral surgeon Dr. Scott Harrington have tested positive for hepatitis and HIV, according to Tulsa health officials.
The Tulsa Health Department released an update Thursday on the first round of test results after an investigation was launched into Harrington's practices.
Fifty-seven individuals so far have tested positive for hepatitis C and three tested positive for hepatitis B, according to the update.
“We understand these first reported test results may be of concern,” said THD director Dr. Bruce Dart. “Thorough investigations are routinely conducted upon notification of a positive report for these infections. This response will be handled in the same manner, as disease investigation is a core public health service and staff are well trained to conduct this type of response.”
Positive results for HIV have also been reported through testing, but Oklahoma State Department of Health policy regarding HIV disclosure prohibits public reporting of numbers less than three.
The Oklahoma Dentistry Board launched the investigation after one of Harrington's patients tested positive for hepatitis. In the board's complaint, they called Harrington "a menace to the public health" after they reportedly found unsanitary conditions and poor sterilization techniques.
Nearly 7,000 of Harrington's former patients were notified of the investigation and encouraged to undergo testing.
Those with positive test results have been or are in the process of being personally contacted, according to Tulsa Health Department spokeswoman Kaitlin Snider. Those with negative results will receive letters in the mail.
“This is a complex investigation,” emphasized state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. “The next phase will include more in-depth interviews of persons who test positive to determine the likelihood that their exposure is associated with their dental surgical procedure at the Harrington practice. We will certainly continue to keep the public informed as we learn more.”
According to the statement from the Tulsa Health Department, it's possible these positive results are the result of infection exposure not related to dental procedures at Harrington's practice.
"An estimated 4,944 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma and as many as 68,000 Oklahomans may be infected with hepatitis C," the statement reads.
Tulsa health officials say these are just the first round of results and the investigation is ongoing. A total of 3,235 people have visited county health departments across Oklahoma to undergo testing as part of the investigation. An unknown number of patients have sought testing through their private doctors.
Harrington voluntary forfeited his license while the investigation was ongoing. He's due in front of the state dentistry board in August.
Still need to get tested? Check out the Tulsa Health Department info page for clinic hours and locations (http://bit.ly/17tEmVT).
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