In an investigation that is making national headlines, health investigators say that approximately 7,000 patients that visited an Oklahoma dentist may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV. The dentist, W. Scott Harrington, has surrendered his dental license and permits to administer medication and anesthesia.
Harrington, a 64-year-old oral surgeon, came under investigation after the dentistry board alerted the health department to a possible hepatitis C infection involving his office. At his clinic, investigators said they discovered:
• Assistants were authorized to perform techniques, including the intravenous sedation of patients, that should only be done by trained dentists • Improper sterilization procedures • Lack of inventory logs for the drug cabinet • At least one drug that expired in 1993 was found • Records indicating that patients were given morphine through 2012 even though Harrington hadn’t received a morphine delivery since 2009 • Dental assistants without permits • An unsanitary work environment • Rusted dental tools • Failure to test the autoclave, which is used to sterilize supplies and equipment, in at least six years
Risk of HIV and hepatitis related to dental malpractice at Harrington’s clinic was high because he treated a lot of patients with these conditions. A lot of the dental procedures he conducted on them were invasive, exposing their tissue, blood, and bones.
While infection from a dentist office is rare, given the situation Harrington’s patients are urged to undergo testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B.
Our Boston dental malpractice lawyers represent clients throughout Massachusetts. Examples of dental negligence:
• Failure to properly treat an oral health condition • Delayed diagnosis • Failure to diagnosis • Wrong diagnosis • Surgical errors • Anesthesia mistakes • Teeth misalignment • Bite malocclusion • Poor dental procedures • Injuries related to root canal, implants, crowns, and veneers • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) injuries caused by a dental procedure • Medication mistakes
Dentist’s office a ‘perfect storm’ for HIV, hepatitis exposure, health official says, CNN, March 29, 2013
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Poor Patients are Less Likely to File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, Reports New Study, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2012