Category: dentists

7,000 Dental Patients Take HIV Test

At least 7,000 patients of the Dr. Scott Harrington Oral and Facial Surgery practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been alerted after one patient tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C. However, when tested again this patient tested positive for Hepatitis C and not HIV. The 7,000 have been encouraged to be tested for HIV and Hepatitis C as a precaution.

Even so, a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Dental Board cites Harrington for an array of safety and health violations that created contamination risks for his patients. He is scheduled to appear before a dental board hearing on April 19 and has voluntarily closed his practice and surrendered his license.

I read this here.

And this article goes into more detail:

Inspectors found a number of problems at the doctor’s clinics in Tulsa and suburban Owasso, according to the state Dentistry Board, which filed a 17-count complaint against Harrington pending an April 19 license revocation hearing. According to the complaint, needles were reinserted into drug vials after being used on patients, expired drugs were found in a medicine cabinet and dental assistants administered sedatives to patients, rather than the doctor.

I’ve also checked out a few other places and basically I found the same information in a simple search. The reason why I’m posting about it is because I saw it on TV earlier and I was left wondering more about the story. The alleged needle issue is scary. But you can’t get HIV from expired drugs and sedatives administered by dental assistants.

I’m also posting for another reason. When a friend of mine was discharged from the hospital a few years ago for an HIV related issued, I took him to the dentist about two weeks after he was discharged and found the dentist more than apprehensive to work on him. He basically passed him off to a “specialist,” for something basic. I found that not only insulting to my friend, but to all people with HIV. And I let the doctor know how I felt before I left, in private, so my friend wouldn’t hear me and get embarrassed. It was evident this dentist was terrified to treat anyone with HIV.

That same day, after my friend was rejected by that one dentist, I called another dentist who is also local and she saw my friend the next day. There was no issue whatsoever with her. The second dentist was a professional and she knew what she was doing. Not a single issue. And, my friend has been going there ever since. NONE of her other patients have contracted HIV as a result.

In an unrelated TRUE story, Tony and I had good friends who lived in New Hope about ten years ago. One was a dentist, however, at the time we became friendly with these two guys the dentist had stopped practicing altogether. I couldn’t help but wonder why. He was only in his early forties at the time. So I asked him and heard yet another horrible dentist/HIV story.

Back in the late 1980’s, my dentist friend had a growing practice. Although he was gay, he was also married with two kids at the time. One thing led to another, he met his gay partner and fell in love, and he ultimately left his wife. As a result, “someone” started a rumor about him. This “someone” spread lies about him being gay and having AIDS. At that time, HIV wasn’t as commonly used as a term as AIDS. And, also at that time, those who tested positive didn’t have HIV drugs and AIDS was basically a death sentence.

The rumor about my dentist friend spread rapidly, which ultimately killed his dental practice and put him out of business. To make an involved story short, my dentist friend filed a civil suit against the “person” who started the rumor, he sued for defamation, and won a three million dollar settlement. Of course he wasn’t HIV positive and he had no problem proving this in court. He also had eyewitnesses to testify on his behalf.

Unfortunately, this changed his entire life; guilt by association because he was gay. He stopped practicing for years and went into a small business. He eventually moved to Palm Springs and went back to school to become a licensed dentist in California, and started a thriving practice there which lasted until his recent passing from a heart attack.

And whenever I see something HIV/AIDS related to anything involving dentists, I’m always curious about all the information, not just a piece of it. If I find out more about the story above, I’ll post a follow up to this.