7000 Dental Patients Possibly Exposed To HIV And Hepatitis
The Tulsa Health Department is warning 7,000 patients of a local dentist’s office that they could have contracted HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C from poor sterilization practices.
The state dental board, the state bureau of narcotics and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are investigating Dr. Wayne Harrington, an oral surgeon with a practice in Tulsa, Okla. because one of his patients recently tested positive for hepatitis C and HIV without known risk factors other than receiving dental treatment.
Upon hearing of the infected patient, the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry conducted a surprise inspection of Harrington’s practice on March 18, and allegedly found numerous problems, including regular use of a rusty set of instruments on patients with known infections.
According to a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry,
Harrington and his staff told investigators that he treated a “high population of known infectious disease carrir patients.”
The complaint also attests that Harrington allegedly re-used needles, contaminating drugs with potentially harmful bacteria and trace amounts of other drugs.
Unlicensed dental assistants were allegedly administered medication to patients, deciding how much was appropriate. Patient-specific drug records indicated that they were using morphine in 2012 even though no morphine had been ordered since 2009.
Joseph Perz, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that dental transmission is not impossible. Perz cited a dental fair three years ago in which hepatitis B was transmitted between patients.
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