Dental Nightmare - Questions of How and Why - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Dental Nightmare - Questions of How and Why

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The question of why has yet to be answered, but ironically, health officials don't think the staff at Dr. Harrington's office were trying to allegedly do harm.

"I think in a weird way they thought they were doing a good thing because they were trying to do extra sterilization by dipping them in bleach, well the bleach corrodes the stainless steel and makes it worse," said Susan Rogers of the Oklahoma Health Department.

That extra step of sterilization, say officials, was done on the instruments used for patients known to have infectious diseases, an extra step that in actuality could have made things worse.

"Those instrument are porous when they have rust, you can't sterilize them," she said.

It's statements like that, that have kept the waves of shock continuing to reverberate.

"I literally stopped the car on the highway," said Oklahoma State Representative David Derby, one of several lawmakers now scrambling for safeguards.

"You trust that the people that are sticking their hands in your mouth are doing everything correctly," he said.

To the onslaught of patients reeling with anxiety and fury.

"I feel a lot of anger for the situation," said one woman.

"Never even once thought that this was even a possibility," said Dillon Waters.

"I could not believe it," said Linda Grimm.

Patients who understandably question just how much the staff knew or didn't know what they were doing.

"They knew those instruments were dirty, they knew they were rusty, they had to have," said Grimm.

"I never once thought about, 'Oh I'm going to go to the dentist let me make sure everything is clean, and everything is sanitary,'" said Waters.

Questions of motives and intentions that run as long as the line of former patients outside the health department waiting to get tested for hepatitis and HIV. How could it come to this? One theory...

"If you think about it, he's been practicing long enough that he started practicing before we even had these guidelines, and so if you don't pay attention to what's going on you're not going to know," said Rogers.

Descriptions of a practice in the dark. The same place some 7,000 people are right now when it comes to the status of their health.

"What are the effects going to be if it ends up being true?" asked Waters.

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