Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Disturbing Allegations Against Small Smiles



Small Smiles is under National Investigation due to an investigation siting barbaric treatment of children in it's dental offices across the nation according to ABC-7 news.


Here is a transcript of the latest report from ABC-7 I-Team Investigation in the DC area.
Date:2-11-08



This is Brandon from N. Carolina showing off his mouthful of baby root canals capped in metal.


And Daniel from Colorado with abrasions and welts from visiting the dentist.


And Miguel from Maryland, strapped down on a papoose board while his mother is forced to wait outside.


Miguel's treatment was not an isolated case. The I-Team has learned that routine use of papoose boards in the Small Smiles network of clinics has injured and traumatized children, and may have played a role in this child's death.


At least a dozen states have launched civil or criminal investigations, many


of them prompted by our reports.


In Arizona…4 year old Jonathan strapped in restraints died from an overdose of anesthesia while this dentist performed five baby root canals.


Dr. Matthew Nolen: "No comment."


The state investigation found that Jonathan was restrained "for no justifiable reason" and his symptoms "could have been masked by the papoose board." The dentist's license was revoked.


Roberta Baskin: "Does the Small Smiles home office encourage the use of these papoose boards?


Doug Gardner: "Yes."


In New York Doug Gardner lost HIS dental license after being convicted of Medicaid fraud for double billing at a Small Smiles clinic.


Doug Gardner: "When you're throwing that much treatment at Medicaid that quickly, they can't check everything."


The I-Team tracked Gardner down to Indianapolis, where he agreed to speak out about Small Smiles practices for the first time.


Doug Gardner: "Taxpayer dollars are being wasted because they're paying for treatment that's not getting done, treatment that doesn't need to be done, and children aren't being treated like children."


This Small Smiles patient remembers being physically held down in the Rochester clinic two years ago.


Ashley Sones: "I was sweating. My whole body was shaking. It was like I was having a seizure."


Gardner says it was not uncommon.


Roberta Baskin: "How stressed out did these patients get?


Doug Gardner: "Stressed out enough to wet their pants, sweat completely through their clothes, be all wet."


Roberta Baskin: "And how are you told to manage that?


Doug Gardner: "Clean them up as best you can before you get them back to mom or dad."


That's another Small Smiles policy. Separating parents from children during dental procedures. In North Carolina Brandon's mom couldn't imagine what was taking three hours until he emerged with 16 baby root canals and steel caps.


Christy Dillbeck/Brandon's mother: "I couldn't stop crying cuz I was very upset and wanted to see him."


In Colorado, these police photos are evidence of young children bruised from restraints. Daniel had 8 teeth drilled and capped in one sitting.


Beatrice Ponce/Daniel's mother: "He just hears the word 'dentist' and he starts to cry and scream that he doesn't want to go in."


Dentists tell us baby root canals and caps may not always be the best treatment option for young patients, but DO result in the best reimbursement for Small Smiles.


Doug Gardner: "The Small Smiles way of taking care of children is to maximize every dollar that they can, during that patient visit, at all costs."


After Gardner's clinic was audited, Small Smiles paid back $444,000 in overcharges.


Gardner: "I've lost my career. I've lost my livelihood." "I'm unemployable now."


Except as an RV salesman in Indianapolis… where he can't forget the pressure from Small Smiles to break a million dollars in profits each year.


"The biggest thing you can do is those baby root canals and crowns cuz it's $220 that Medicaid does not question. ...its just 220, 220, 220, 220, 220."
-----------------------------------------------------


AS A RESULT OF OUR REPORTS, THE MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS LAUNCHED A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF SMALL SMILES.


THE CURRENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY, FORBA, TOOK OVER THE CLINICS IN SEPT 2006 AND SAYS IT CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROBLEMS THAT OCCURRED BEFORE THEN.


THEY DECLINED AN ON CAMERA INTERVIEW, BUT TELL US THEY'RE UNDERTAKING AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION IN MARYLAND AND THE DISTRICT.
At the site above you can read a couple of so called statements from the folks at FORBA. They really don't say a whole lot...other than a lot of blah blah blah. What I find most interesting is what they Do Not mentions.

Here is FORBA-Small Smiles-Kool Smiles Latest Statement...like I said... a lot of blah blah blah. I did note that the press release is from the renowned Rubin Meyer, a "marketing" and "communication" firm in Washington DC. Here is what Ruben Meyer says at their site as to exactly what they do:
Many companies face challenges from regulators and policymakers in Washington and must navigate what can be a difficult business environment. The days of the back-room deal are gone. Today it takes hard work, creativity, and a clear message to get the job done in Washington.
Maybe it's just me but I read that as "Lobbyist". What is clear is that these people at FORBA-Small Smiles-Kool Smiles whatever have some really big bucks to spend to hire these people for their press releases.
Date: 2-8-08
Don Meyer
Donald.Meyer@rubinmeyer.com
202-834-6859


STATEMENT OF FORBA DENTAL MANAGEMENT
Nashville, TN – FORBA Dental Management, management company of Small Smiles
Dental Centers, released the following statement today:
“The current executive leadership and ownership of FORBA Dental
Management, the management company of Small Smiles, has been in place
since September 2006. Since that time, our objective has been to provide highquality
dental care to children in underserved communities nationwide, and we
have taken steps to improve the policies and culture of the company to meet
that goal.
“Most recently, we have launched a number of initiatives, detailed in previous
statements to WJLA, to improve care and ensure a positive experience for
children and parents at Small Smiles Dental Centers.
“Under our management, Small Smiles’ 1,600 employees and caregivers
work tirelessly to ensure that underserved children receive the highest
quality, compassionate care at our facilities nationwide.”


They fail to address the fact that they are also called Kool Smiles in many states. At this point in time Kool Smiles are popping up on every street corner. You can do job searches and Kool Smiles are looking for employees in many states across the US. Not so many under the name Small Smiles. Wonder why that is exactly?

My hat's is off to the people at ABC-7 Investigation team. Forba has posted another great statement with general denial on the website of WJLA under the comments section, however I wonder why they keep making "statements" and won't answer some  hard questions.

  Amazing though how since this latest report has come out, there are people signing up on the comments section to basically stick up for FORBA, wonder if they might me part of the new marketing machine, ya think? Do these posters actually think people are stupid or what?

Water boarding is all over the news as to whether it's an appropriate torture for murders at Gitmo. I tell you what, I'm more concerned about "Papoose Boarding" right here stateside and this is being done to our very own children buy dentists across the US.

It certainly isn't just these dental chains who are making the news, it's your local private dentist as well.

2 Must Read Comments:

Eryn said...

Thanks for blogging about this. In December, my son was diagnosed with 4 cavities, one in each of his left 4 molars, at a Kool Smiles in our hometown, Vancouver, WA.

I had a gut feeling that it was just wrong, the Dr Treated me horribly, and that basically I had ruined my son's beautiful Teeth. They told me he needed 4 stainless steel crowns.

I went to a new private pediatric dental specialist today, who told me there was no cavity in 2 of those teeth, and the other two were absolutely not in need of crowns. There are cavities, but only need one reasonable filling.

I am shocked and appalled. We plan to contact our local news station in Portland Or. Your blog has been helpful to us in confirming our suspicions about this chain.

Me said...

Eryn:

You are welcome! Yes, contact everyone, every news organization, scream from the roof tops. This has to stop!