Okla. oral surgeon may face criminal charges

The Oklahoma Board of Dentistry is asking prosecutors to file criminal charges against a Tulsa oral surgeon who was cited as a health "menace" after investigators found rusty instruments and lax sterilization procedures in his office.

The executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, Susan Rogers, met with Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris Monday to discuss whether W. Scott Harrington, DMD, should be charged with criminal negligence, according to an Associated Press (AP) story.

State health officials have notified approximately 7,000 of Dr. Harrington's patients about potential exposure to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Dr. Harrington and his staff could face at least two felony charges, including practicing dentistry without a license and aiding or abetting another person who is violating the state's dental act. The charges carry prison terms of up to four years and a $10,000 fine.

The dental board launched an investigation of Dr. Harrington last month after being notified that state health officials were looking into a complaint about potential hepatitis C contamination at his practice. One patient with no known risk factors has tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C after being treated by Dr. Harrington, according to a 17-count complaint by the dental board.

Health department and dental board investigators found numerous violations of health and safety laws, including the use of rusty instruments on patients known to have infectious diseases.

Dr. Harrington, who has practiced in the area for 39 years, surrendered his license on March 20 and is cooperating with investigators, according to health officials. His offices are currently closed, and he could not be reached for comment. His Tulsa attorney, Jim Secrest, did not respond to calls for comment.

More than 400 people lined up outside a Tulsa health clinic on March 30 to get tested, and dozens more did on April 1 also, according to the AP story.

Dr. Harrington was sued for medical malpractice in 1994 and for negligence in 1997, according to court records. Both cases were settled out of court.

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