Dentist May Have Exposed Thousands Of Patients to HIV virus, Hepatitis
INSIDE EDITION spoke to a dentist about another member of his profession who's being called a major menace to public health.
"My reaction is, I'm shocked, to be honest," said New York dentist Dr. Michael Apa.
Dr. W. Scott Harrington of Tulsa, Oklahoma allegedly put 7,000 of his patients at risk with extremely unsanitary operating conditions. They've been urged to have themselves tested for Hepatitis A and B and the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.
CNN spoke with Colton Scott who says he had his wisdom teeth pulled by Dr. Harrington.
Scott said, "Yes, I do plan on getting tested. As well as my mother, my uncle and my cousin were all exposed to this as well because we all went to this doctor."
"Do you have anything you'd like to say to the dentist?" asked CNN's reporter.
"Why? How could you do this to so many people for so long?" asked Scott.
Conditions at Harrington's office have medical experts shaking their heads in disbelief.
Susan Rogers, Executive Director of the Oklahoma State Board of Dentistry said, "The instruments - they were horrible. I wouldn't let my nephews play with them out in the dirt. They had rust on them."
INSIDE EDITION's Megan Alexander asked Dr. Apa, "What should a patient look our for?"
"You want to make sure that everything seems clean when you walk into the room," said Dr. Apa.
Dr. Apa showed us how a safe and sanitary dentist's office should look when you walk in.
Alexander asked, "Everything a dentist touches should have a plastic covering on it?"
"Correct. Every time a patient comes in, everything should be changed and replaced," said Dr. Apa. "As soon a dentist is going to do anything in your mouth, or touch your mouth in any way, the gloves should be on first. Then, if the dentist gets up and leaves the room, the gloves come off in the room, and get put back on fresh when you come into the room," said Dr. Apa.
Alexander asked, "In terms of instruments, what do you need to look for?"
Dr. Apa explained, "Anything that's going into your mouth in this dental visit is sealed in a sterilized packages. Anything that's open is a red flag."
This isn't the first time a dentist has been at the heart of a medical horror.
In 1991, Kim Bergalis wondered, "How could this have happened? It just didn't make sense," when she was told she had AIDS. Turns out she contracted it from her dentist when he pulled two of her teeth. They both died of AIDS.
Dr. Harrington has voluntarily given up his license after more than 30 years of practice. Now, people across the nation are left to wonder about their own dental care.
Dr. Apa said, "To hear what's happened is shocking."
A spokesperson for the Tulsa Health Department says the dentist is cooperating with the investigation.