Dr. Harrington: New hepatitis, HIV cases confirmed; district attorney weighs in on investigation
11:12 AM, May 9, 2013
7:28 AM, May 10, 2013
TULSA - In an update from the Tulsa Health Department on the testing of former patients of Tulsa oral surgeon Dr. Scott Harrington, officials said one new hepatitis C case has been identified in the past week.
After months of testing, 70 patients have tested positive for hepatitis C, four patients tested positive for hepatitis B and three HIV-positive infections have been identified.
On March 28, state and local health officials began notifying Harrington's former patients of an investigation into his Tulsa and Owasso clinics and that as many as 7,000 patients may have been exposed to blood-borne viruses.
So far, 3,796 patients have been tested at Oklahoma health departments. An unknown number have sought testing from their primary care physicians.
While HIV and hepatitis testing continues among former patients of Harrington, the criminal investigation continues with the involvement of both state and federal authorities.
Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris released a statement Thursday regarding the allegations against Harrington by the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, including improper sterilization procedures that could have infected many of his patients with a number of blood-borne viruses.
The state dental board filed a 17-count complaint calling Harrington "a menace to the public health.
Among the allegations, Harrington allowed dental assistants to administer IV sedation and reused equipment on multiple patients.
"The goal is to do a thorough investigation and then make some common sense decisions on potential criminal charges and which agency is in the best position to prosecute any case," Harris said.
Based on the number of individuals to be interviewed and the involvement of both federal and state investigators, Harris says the investigation is likely to be a long one.
"Once an investigation is complete, the case will be reviewed for potential criminal charges," Harris said. "Depending on what the investigation reveals, it is possible charges could be filed by the Tulsa County DA's Office, or by the state Attorney General or by federal prosecutors. Prosecutors for all agencies will objectively look at the evidence and then make those decisions."