A Tulsa, Oklahoma dental office may have exposed 7,000 people to HIV.
The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry found unsanitary conditions in a dental office owned by Dr. Wayne Harrington, an oral surgeon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The health investigation was sparked by a recent case of a person who tested positive for hepatitis C and HIV without known risk factors other than the person’s recent dental treatment.
News of the patient’s HIV infection prompted the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry to conduct a surprise inspection of Harrington’s practice on March 18. The inspectors allegedly several sanitary violations including a rusty set of instruments that were used on patients and that the dental office allegedly poured bleach on wounds until they “turned white.”
According to Harrington and his staff, the dental office treated a “high population of known infectious disease carrier patients.” In addition to health violations, Harrington also allegedly allowed unlicensed dental assistants to give medication to patients. In the complaint, the unlicensed assistants were allowed to decide which medications to use and how much.
The instruments used for infected patients were cleaned using normal cleaning methods and an extra dip in bleach. However, the instruments showed red-brown rust spots which indicates that they were “porous and cannot be properly sterilized.”
The Tulsa Health Department has sent letters to Harrington’s patients to notify them of the risk and offering free-of-charge testing for hepatitis C and HIV.
The Tulsa Health Department setup a hotline at (918) 595-4500 for people who may have questions.