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Oklahoma dental board may institute routine inspections

Friday - 3/29/2013, 1:50pm  ET

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The state dental board in Oklahoma says it doesn't do routine inspections of dental and oral surgeon clinics -- because it's too busy chasing complaints, including those involving misused drugs and possible sexual misconduct.

But the executive director of the board says the policy might change, in light of a case involving a Tulsa dental clinic where inspectors say thousands of patients were put at risk for hepatitis and the virus that causes AIDS.

They say they found rusty instruments that were used on patients with infectious diseases, and a pattern of unsanitary practices. They're urging 7,000 patients of Dr. Scott Harrington to get tested for hepatitis and HIV.

Inspectors say workers at Harrington's two clinics used dirty equipment and risked cross-contamination to the point that the state Dentistry Board is calling Harrington a "menace to the public health."

Health officials say the investigation began after a patient with no known risk factors tested positive for both hepatitis C and HIV.

Harrington has voluntarily given up his license. Officials say he's closed his offices and is cooperating with investigators.

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072-a-05-(Susan Rogers, executive director, Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, in interview)-"in the dirt"-Susan Rogers, the executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, says she was shocked by the condition of the dental instruments she was shown by the doctor's assistant. COURTESY: KTUL TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (29 Mar 2013)

<> 00:05 "in the dirt"

070-a-15-(Kaitlin Snider, spokeswoman, Tulsa Health Department, in AP interview)-"practice in Tulsa"-Kaitlin Snider, a spokeswoman for the Tulsa Health Department, says Dr. W. Scott Harrington came under investigation after one of his patients contracted a viral infection. (29 Mar 2013)

<> 00:15 "practice in Tulsa"

APPHOTO RPJJ101: This photo taken Thursday, March 28, 2013 shows the office of oral surgeon W. Scott Harrington in Tulsa, Okla. Health officials have urged Harrington's patients to undergo hepatitis and HIV testing, saying filthy conditions at his office posed a threat to his 7,000 clients and made him a "menace to the public health." (AP Photo/Justin Juozapavicius) (28 Mar 2013)

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