Authorities have urged roughly 7,000 patients of a Tulsa area dentist to get tested last month after finding unsanitary conditions at his two Tulsa-area clinics, including varying cleaning procedures for equipment, needles re-inserted in drug vials after their initial use, drug vials used on multiple patients and no written infection-protection procedure.
The cost of blood tests for thousands of patients of a Tulsa oral surgeon being investigated for keeping unsanitary offices is nearing $700,000 so far, and state health officials said they expected that figure to increase as more people come forward.
The costs associated with the investigation are sure to rise, as follow-up tests, patient notification and time needed for disease investigations into patients who test positive have yet to be tallied, Leslea Bennett-Webb, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said in an interview.
"I wouldn't even try to hazard a guess (as to a dollar estimate) because we still have people coming in," she said. "This is a long-term response. This is not something we see a quick resolution to."
Since Harrington's patients were urged to get tested last month, 65 have tested positive for hepatitis C, three tested positive for hepatitis B and one or two for HIV.
Health officials caution that it would be highly unusual for those patients to have contracted the illnesses at the doctor's two Tulsa-area clinics.
Officials also noted in their investigation that Harrington's staff had said they knew several patients came to the clinic already infected. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says spreading disease at a dental clinic is extremely rare, with just three known cases in two decades.
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