TULSA — A January licensure hearing for a Tulsa oral surgeon accused of keeping filthy office conditions has been postponed at least three months because the investigation into his practices is ongoing, officials said this week.
Investigators still need to depose dozens of people in the case of Dr. W. Scott Harrington, whose two Tulsa-area clinics were shut down last March. Health officials eventually determined that a patient had contracted hepatitis C from one of his clinics, marking the nation's first transmission of the illness between patients in a dental office.
The delay in the hearing until April 25 was agreed to by the state's Board of Dentistry and Harrington's attorneys. Dentistry board executive director Susan Rogers said investigators still need to depose as many as 40 patients, clinic employees and other witnesses.
"There is a voluminous amount of information," Rogers said.
Rogers estimated her investigators have already spent at least $200,000 on the probe, which accompanied a 17-count complaint filed by the state that documented rusty instruments, potentially contaminated drug vials and improper use of a machine designed to sterilize tools at Harrington's offices.
"I think this case has brought an awareness and attention to all of the licensed dentists and pretty much the dental industry in Oklahoma," Rogers said. "Even the good dentists tell me they started paying more attention to what they were doing.
"I think because of this, dentistry in Oklahoma is (in) a much safer place," she said.
Health officials had asked that Harrington's roughly 7,000 former patients get tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. More than 4,200 people were tested, but health officials determined that only one individual contracted an illness, hepatitis C, at the clinic.
Harrington, who is cooperating with investigators, had been a dentist for 36 years before voluntarily giving up his license on March 20.
A phone message left for Harrington's attorney seeking comment Thursday was not immediately returned.
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