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No criminal charges filed against Tulsa dentist accused of exposing patients to HIV

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: April 1, 2013 at 11:41 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013

It could be a long time before criminal charges, if any, are filed against a Tulsa dentist accused of unsanitary practices that might have sickened as many as 7,000 of his patients, a dentistry board official said Monday.

Dr. Wayne Scott Harrington, a Tulsa dentist and oral surgeon, faces a complaint with 17 counts from the state Board of Dentistry accusing him of violations of state and federal laws and the state Dental Act.

Harrington potentially exposed his patients to blood-borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, according to the state Health Department. More counts may be added to the complaint as the investigation continues.

But the state dentistry board's investigation has a long way to go before formally filing charges, with board officials still conducting interviews and trying to understand what happened at Harrington's Tulsa and Owasso offices.

Susan Rogers, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, said she has spoken with Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris but has not filed anything with his office.

“I have not presented anything for him to review and probably won't, if we ever do, for a while because we've got a lot more things to investigate and conclude before we're ready to take anything to him,” Rogers said Monday.

“Yes, I discussed the ongoing investigation today as to where we are on a couple of things, but that's all.”

Susan Witt, the Tulsa County district attorney spokeswoman, said the office hadn't received anything regarding Harrington yet.

License surrendered

Harrington, 64, received his dentist license in 1974 and his oral surgery specialty license in 1977. He voluntarily surrendered his state dental license on March 20, 2013, pending an emergency hearing at the state dentistry board April 19.

About a week after he surrendered his license, the Tulsa Health Department and state Health Department announced that, after a joint investigation with the state dentistry board, they were notifying about 7,000 of Harrington's patients that they might have been exposed to bloodborne viruses at the dentist practice.

Saturday, 420 of Harrington's patients were screened at the Tulsa Health Department's special testing clinic.

At the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, about 30 of Harrington's patients had been screened, as of Monday afternoon.

Harrington did not have a disciplinary history with the state dentistry board.

Before the investigation, Harrington was a member of the Oklahoma Dental Association and in good standing with the group.

In 2001, he was charged with driving while intoxicated in Dallas County, Texas.

He received two years' probation, according to court records.

Harrington's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Complaint required

Rogers said under state law, the state dentistry board is not allowed to investigate a dentist unless someone files a complaint with the board. Meanwhile, the state Health Department doesn't have jurisdiction to investigate dentists.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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