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Thousands of Patients at Risk of HIV and Other Diseases because of Dentist's Shoddy Practices

Medical malpractice is every patient’s worst nightmare. Yet many times patients are injured at the hands of their health care provider or exposed to serious and potentially deadly diseases. Sadly, that is what happened to nearly 7,000 patients in Oklahoma. According to USA Today, health officials urged thousands of patients and former patients of Dr. W. Scott Harrington, a dental surgeon in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, to be tested for potential exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Patient and former patients of Harrington who visited his facility since 2007 were notified by letter of the health risks, according to a news release issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Patient records were not available for periods before 2007, but health officials recommended that all former patients of Dr. Harrington contact health officials.

The health warning and recommendation was prompted following an investigation of Harrington’s dentistry facility. After receiving a report that a patient contracted hepatitis C and HIV around the time that recent dental work had been performed, Oklahoma health officials conducted an investigation. The patient was later discovered to have hepatitis C, and the Dentistry Board discovered filthy conditions and several health and safety violations.

In the wake of the investigation and allegations of health and safety violations, Harrington, an oral surgeon who has been licensed since the 1970s, surrendered his credentials last month, discontinued his practice, and is cooperating with health officials.

Alleged health and safety violations include, among others, the following:

  • Allowing assistants to administer IV sedation – a practice that only a licensed dentist may perform

  • Keeping incomplete drug logs

  • Keeping expired medications

  • Lack of safe and sanitary sterilization methods

  • Committing gross negligence regarding dental health care decisions

If the allegations prove to be true, Harrington could face criminal charges, as well as civil liability for any injuries suffered by his patients in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have an obligation to provide adequate and appropriate treatment. When a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or dentist, commits a medical error or gross negligence, and the patient suffers injury as a result, the doctor or dentist may be held liable for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possible punitive damages.

The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish have many years of experience representing the victims of medical malpractice, and are committed to helping victims receive just compensation for their injuries. Contact our office at (312) 782-1386 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago accident lawyers if you have been the victim of medical error.


Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.