Oklahoma Dentist May Have Exposed More Than 7,000 Patients to HIV and Hepatitis

Monday, April 1, 2013

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The unsanitary practices of an Oklahoma dentist may have exposed more than 7,000 patients to HIV and hepatitis, according to a number of media sources and the Oklahoma Department of Health (DOH). Currently officials with the Oklahoma DOH are contacting all of the dentist’s patients since 2007, and urging them to get tested for blood-borne diseases. Since the news broke on March 28, 2013, the dentist has voluntarily closed his two offices and surrendered his dental license for 30 days.

Click here to read a copy of the letter from Oklahoma DOH warning the dentist's patients to get tested.

We want to point out that these are just allegations made against the dentist at this point in time and have not been proven by the state.


Dentist Accused of Being a “Menace to the Public” in Complaint.

According to the complaint filed with the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, the dentist is allegedly facing 17 allegations from The Board due to the violations against his practice.

Alleged charges against the dentist include:

1.  A patient testing positive for HIV and hepatitis C;
2.  The dental practice being unsafe, unsanitary and lacking of sterilization checks;
3.  Committing gross negligence related to decisions related to the dental health care of patients;
4.  Practicing dentistry without the proper display of licenses and certifications;
5.  Violation of provisions of the State Dental Practice Act by failing to keep a suitable record of dangerous drugs;
6.  Unlawful practices in authorizing dental assistants to practice dentistry; and
7.  Having open vials of medications and unsanitary dental materials in an unclean environment.

Click here to read the complaint.


Dentist Admitted to Not Handling Sterilization and Drugs Procedures.

According to the complaint, a device in the dentist’s office used to sterilize dental instruments wasn’t working properly. An inspector also found two separate sets of instruments. Each set was cleaned differently, one set of instruments was for patients known to have infectious diseases, and one set was for those not believed to have such diseases. Oklahoma DOH officials said the proper approach is for all instruments to be handled as if they contain viruses and infectious diseases.

According to an article in The New York Times, the dentist allegedly told officials during one inspection of his office that his staff handled all sterilization and drug procedures. Click here to read the entire article from The New York Times.


Dentist Faces Hearing at State Board of Dentistry.

According to the Oklahoma DOH, the dentist has been a state-licensed dentist since 1974, and an oral surgeon since 1977. He faces the possibility of having his license revoked, after a hearing on April 19, 2013, at the state Board of Dentistry in Oklahoma. This investigation is ongoing.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Comments?

What do you think of this dentist’s story? Are you curious as to how the practice got so bad? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Sources:

Oklahoma Board of Dentistry State of Oklahoma v. Wayne Scott Harrington, D.M.D. Case Number 13-005. Statement of Complaint. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/OK%20Dentist%20Complaint.pdf

Ball, Brandi. “Tulsa County Dentist May Have Exposed 7,000 Patients to HIV, Hepatitis.” News on 6. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.newson6.com/story/21820518/tulsa-county-dentist-may-have-exposed-patients-to-hiv-hepatitis

Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Tulsa Health Department, Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Investigate Tulsa Dentist.” (March 28, 2013). From: http://bit.ly/ZwRhRT

Fernandez, Manny. “Tests Start for Patients of Dentist in Inquiry.” The New York Times. (March 29, 2013). From: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/health/dental-patients-in-oklahoma-warned-of-disease-risk.html


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.


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4/1/2013

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