Brother of 2nd prison dentist confirms his death from AIDS

May 26, 1991|By James Bock

A second prison dentist who treated inmates at the Maryland Penitentiary died of AIDS, the dentist's brother confirmed yesterday.

Dr. H. Dale Scott, who filled in as prison dentist for 14 days in 1989, died Oct. 12 of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, said his brother, Edward E. Scott of New Braunfels, Texas. He was 49.

Dr. Scott substituted in May and June 1989 for the chief prison dentist, Dr. Victor J. Luckritz, who died of AIDS May 7 at the age of 47. Dr. Luckritz treated inmates at the prison from June 1988 to April 1990.

Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, a spokesman for the prison system, said yesterday that officials were "continuing to look at the books and compile a list of inmate patients" of Dr. Luckritz and Dr. Scott. He said notices would go out to the inmates within a few days, offering them counseling and the chance to be tested for AIDS.

"The risk of contracting HIV [human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS] from a dental procedure is very minimal, and this is what we are trying to convey to the inmates," Sergeant Shipley said.

"The inmates tell us they are distressed by the continuing news reports [about the dentists who died of AIDS] and the way the reports are affecting their families. They say the families are upset by this and are not visiting them," he said.

The spokesman could provide no figures to show that visits had fallen off.

Reporters have not been allowed to interview Penitentiary inmates because of prison officials' concerns that such visits could inflame the situation, Sergeant Shipley said.

In the decade since the AIDS epidemic surfaced, about 170,000 cases have been diagnosed, but federal authorities have documented only three in which patients contracted HIV from a health care worker.

John Hannay, co-chairman of the Baltimore Justice Campaign, a gay rights group, said news reports about the prison dentists were "blowing these situations way out of proportion" and "inflaming public hysteria."

"I wish they would give the same kind of attention to other aspects of the epidemic rather than to these two health officials," he said.

The dentists were probably "more at risk of being infected by other diseases from their patients" than the inmates were of contracting AIDS from the dentists, he added.

Dr. Luckritz and Dr. Scott were employed by Correctional Medical Systems, a private, St. Louis-based contractor that provides medical and dental care throughout the prison system.

Prison officials said Wednesday that they were investigating the possibility that a second prison dentist died of AIDS, but they didn't release his name because of privacy protections. Sergeant Shipley said yesterday that Dr. Scott was the dentist.

The spokesman said officials knew of no other people with AIDS who provided health care to inmates.

The number of patients treated by Dr. Scott, who worked 14 seven-hour days at the prison, is expected to be "rather small," Sergeant Shipley said. Prison officials have said Dr. Luckritz treated thousands of inmates.

Dr. Scott was a native of Bay City, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Texas and its dental school, his brother said.

He was a dentist in the Navy from 1964 to 1971, served in Vietnam and held the rank of captain, according to obituary information prepared last fall by a funeral home.

After discharge from the Navy, Dr. Scott lived in Virginia, where he had a private dental practice, his brother said, and moved to Baltimore, apparently in the late 1980s.

Edward Scott said he didn't know whether his brother, who lived in the 1900 block of Mount Royal Terrace, a row of restored town houses in Reservoir Hill, had a private practice here. A neighbor said there was no dental office at the Mount Royal Terrace address, and Dr. Scott did not advertise an office location in the telephone yellow pages.

Several friends of Dr. Scott's refused to talk about him yesterday.

"The man is dead. Why can't you leave it alone?" a next-door neighbor, who wouldn't give his name, asked angrily.

Edward Scott said the news that his brother had AIDS came as a shock.

"I didn't know about it until two or three weeks before he died," Mr. Scott said.

Dr. Scott was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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