Tulsa oral surgeon accused in health scare sued

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Tulsa oral surgeon accused of exposing thousands of his patients to hepatitis and HIV because of unsanitary clinics is now facing a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by seven people in Tulsa County District Court on Tuesday, names Wayne Scott Harrington, his corporation, his medical staff and several pharmaceutical companies.

Health officials said Harrington exposed roughly 5,000 patients with infectious diseases due to rusty instruments and unsanitary practices. His office was shut down in March.

The lawsuit said that the plaintiffs were patients of Harrington’s and were exposed to infectious diseases through contaminated propofol vials. Propofol is an anesthetic used if medical procedures.

The lawsuit also said that Harrington and his practice failed to employ adequately trained personnel, which resulted in exposure and contraction of infectious diseases.

Five of the seven plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that they have been diagnosed with an infectious disease due to the actions of Harrington and the others. The former patients also said they are at risk of contracting blood-borne pathogens.

“Plaintiffs are informed and believe that they were exposed to contaminated propofol vials and/or equipment not effectively sterilized by autoclave components, at the dental clinics which resulted in Plaintiffs contracting infectious diseases,” the lawsuit stated.

A lawyer for Harrington did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In addition to Harrington and his corporation, the lawsuit also names medical staff workers and drug makers as defendants. The lawsuit stated that despite evidence that health care providers were reusing propofol vials, which increased the likelihood of spreading an infectious disease, the companies continued to manufacture, distribute and market the multi-use vials.

“Contaminated vials of propofol are defective products unfit for intended use, as the contaminated propofol vials exposes persons to communicable infectious diseases from the prior persons that the contaminated propofol vials were used upon,” the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $10,000.

After months of testing patients, state health officials said roughly 75 former patients of Harrington’s tested positive for hepatitis C and a handful for hepatitis B and HIV.

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Follow Kristi Eaton on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kristieaton .

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