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HIV, hepatitis tests urged for 7,000 Oklahoma dental patients

By Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A Tulsa, Oklahoma, health center on Saturday began drawing blood samples from patients who may have been exposed to viruses at an oral surgery dental clinic that is under investigation.

As many as 7,000 of Dr. W. Scott Harrington's patients are being notified by letter that health officials recommend they be tested for hepatitis and HIV.

The investigation began when one of Harrington's patients tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C. But a subsequent blood test showed the patient tested positive only for Hepatitis C, said Tulsa health department officials in a press release on Saturday.

Even so, a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Dental Board cites Harrington for an array of safety and health violations that created contamination risks for his patients. He is scheduled to appear before a dental board hearing on April 19 and has voluntarily closed his practice and surrendered his license.

Harrington's patients are being offered free blood screening on a walk-in basis at the North Regional Health and Wellness Center in Tulsa.

A hot line has also been established to answer questions and more than 400 people have called it so far, officials said.

(Editing by Nick Carey and Gunna Dickson)

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