OK Dentist Has 7,000 Urged to Test For HIV, Hepatitis

ABC World News (3/28, lead story, 1:45, Sawyer, 7.43M) reported in its lead segment, “A trip to the dentist creating a frightening prospect for 7,000 people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. People urged to get tested for a host of serious diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis.” ABC (Wright) added, “Dr. W. Scott Harrington has been practicing oral surgery for 36 years. … But authorities are now concerned he may have exposed thousands of his patients to potentially deadly infections.” Wright added, “The Federal Centers for Disease Control are assisting in the investigation.”

On ABC World News (3/28, story 2, 0:55, Sawyer, 7.43M) ABC’s Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Richard Besser said, “This is absolutely unbelievable if these allegations are true. … A member of the [CDC] team who went in, could not believe what she saw in this dentist’s office.”

The AP (3/29, Juozapavicius) reports that when “a patient with no known risk factors tested positive for both hepatitis C and the virus that causes AIDS,” state and county health inspectors examined Harrington’s practice, finding “employees using dirty equipment, reusing drug vials and administering drugs without a license.” He also is “accused of letting his assistants perform tasks only a licensed dentist should have done.” The AP adds, “Harrington told officials he left questions about sterilization and drug procedures to his employees.”

USA Today (3/28, Lackey, Winter, 1.71M) reports Oklahoma state epidemiologist Kristy Bradley “stressed that ‘this is not an outbreak,'” and “the health departments noted that transmissions of these diseases in this type of occupational setting are rare.”

The Tulsa (OK) World (3/29, Muchmore, 101K) reports, “The Tulsa Health Department is setting up free testing clinics for the 7,000 patients who may have been exposed since 2007 when the earliest patient information was available,” and patients from before then are urged to contact a hotline.

The CNN (3/28) reports, “Harrington voluntarily stopped practicing,” and the Tulsa Health Department said, “The dentist is cooperating with investigators through his attorney.”

Also covering this story are the Daily Mail (UK) (3/29) and the websites of ABC News (3/29) and FOX News (3/29).

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