Jeremy Thurman on April 2, 2013
Tulsa dentist, Dr. Wayne Scott Harrington, has been accused of exposing patients to a variety of blood-borne illnesses in his Tulsa and Owasso offices. While the Tulsa Health Department, in connection with the state Health Department, and the state dentistry board, are beginning the task of notifying around 7,000 of Harrington’s patients, only a small number of those have been screened as of Monday. As that process unfolds, it may take a long time before criminal charges are filed against Dr. Harrington.
While the multi-agency investigation is still conducting interviews to get a better sense of what happened in his offices, Dr. Harrington faces a complaint with 17 counts from the state Board of Dentistry accusing him of violations of both state and federal laws, as well as the state Dental Act.
Dr. Harrington has voluntarily surrendered his state dental license as of March 20, 2013, pending an emergency hearing at the state dentistry board April 19.
The 7,000 patients being notified by the state and federal agencies were potentially exposed to blood-borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, while under the care of Dr. Harrington.
Susan Rogers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, stated that had Dr. Harrington’s practice been a dentist office, and not an oral surgery office, the number of patients possibly exposed would have likely been much smaller.
At the center of the dentistry board’s complaint were issues of sanitization and sterilization. The dentistry board’s complaint referred to Harrington as “a menace to public health” for his office’s failure to comply with universal safety precautions.
In addition to the issue of lack of sterilization—the office kept two sets of instruments, one for patients who weren’t believed to have infectious diseases, and another for patients that they knew did—the complaint also took issue with dental assistants administering IV sedation to patients.
Rogers stated that it’s illegal for a dental assistant to administer anesthesia.
Under law, the state Board of Dentistry cannot investigate a dentist until a complaint has been filed. The Oklahoman has information available on how to file a complaint with the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry.
McIntyre Law is staffed with experienced medical malpractice lawyers.