TULSA -- The Tulsa oral surgeon at the center of a public health scare involving thousands of his patients is expected to talk with state Dentistry Board executives by the end of the week, board officials said Thursday.
Board Executive Director Susan Rogers said she expects to talk with Dr. W. Scott Harrington and his attorney by telephone on Friday about evidence that board investigators have gathered against the 64-year-old doctor.
"I want them to make the most informed decisions possible," said Rogers, also an attorney. "From my perspective, I give it to him like I would want to hear it."
RELATED: 7,000 patients potentially exposed to hepatitis, HIV (http://bit.ly/dentistexposure)
Health officials last month urged 7,000 patients of Harrington's to be tested for possible exposure to hepatitis and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, after finding unsanitary conditions at his Tulsa and Owasso clinics. More than 2,300 have already been tested, a Tulsa health department spokeswoman said Thursday.
The transmission of infectious diseases by dentists and oral surgeons is extremely rare, with only three known cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma and Tulsa health departments recommended that Harrington's patients be screened for hepatitis and HIV as a precaution, not as a result of any known transmission.
Harrington, who has been a dentist for 36 years, voluntarily surrendered his medical license on March 20. He faces an April 19 hearing on his temporary suspension and could have his certification revoked.
His attorney, Jim Secrest II, said last week Harrington was cooperating with investigators and noted his previous record with the dental board was "impeccable." Secrest did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.
The board branded Harrington a "menace to the public health" in a 17-count complaint that alleges his practice had varying cleaning procedures for its equipment. Investigators said needles were re-inserted in drug vials after their initial use, drug vials were used on multiple patients and the office had no written infection-protection procedure.
VIEW THE COMPLAINTS (http://bit.ly/HarringtonDOCS)
Also, dental assistants performed some tasks reserved to a licensed dentist, such as administering IV sedation. A device used to sterilize equipment hadn't undergone required monthly tests in at least six years.
Inspectors from Oklahoma health agencies intervened to check on a report that one of Harrington's patients had contracted hepatitis C and HIV, perhaps around the time of recent dental work. It was later determined the patient had only hepatitis C.
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