If your child was hurt, injured, over treated or mistreated by Dr. Edward Dove, Email Me for more information about this dentist.
High-profile attorney enters fray over controversial dentist
BY KELLIE SCHMITT Californian staff writer
firstname.lastname@example.org | Saturday, Dec 03 2011 09:00 PM
Photo details at end of article
In August, dozens of local parents formed a Facebook group alleging Dr. Edward Dove improperly cared for their children, including scratching and hitting them while they were not sufficiently numb and restrained with Velcro straps.
This week, a representative from Dove's office said the dentist had no comment, and that office staff had been instructed not to discuss the matter, either. In a previous interview, Dove, who currently has a clean disciplinary record, told The Californian that he gave excellent care and that the parents were inventing the allegations.
Attorney Jim Moriarty, who said he's ready to sign with the parents, has been involved in several national healthcare matters -- including a case against Tenet Healthcare for unnecessary heart procedures at a Redding facility. That case that resulted in a $430 million settlement for the plaintiffs and a $24 million payout to the government.
More recently, Moriarty is representing hundreds of plaintiffs in a case unrelated to Dove against Small Smiles dental centers, a chain of clinics that serves low-income families throughout the nation. (Moriarty contract information in the right had column-Jim Moriarty)
Moriarty alleges the chain makes money "by exploiting the Medicaid system," and doing unnecessary procedures that "traumatize" children. In that case, Moriarty has investigated what he describes as routine over-treatment and extremely fast care that "can't be done without emotionally and physically traumatizing children."
Moriarty, who met with some Bakersfield parents in October, said he was drawn to the local case in part because of its extraordinary mobilization effort. Parent Chris Cook, who was angry about his son's care, created a Facebook site that ultimately attracted hundreds of fellow parents, supporters and observers. The site drew patients from both Dove's Bakersfield and Chatsworth offices, who did not know each other previously.
"What Cook and these parents have done is sheer brilliance," Moriarty said. "They've done more to shine the light on this issue than any other parents in the country."
Cook says he's interested in working with an attorney as another prong in his strategy to "shut down and destroy" Dove. Working with a seasoned attorney will take some of the weight off his shoulders, and ensure that the issue doesn't fall through the cracks.
"Never has it been or will it be about getting money out of this dude," he said. "We want to make sure what happened to my kids isn't happening to other kids, that the public is informed."
Many of the parents' complaints against Dove stem from his use of a papoose board to keep patients still while working on their teeth -- while parents weren't allowed in the room. Some parents report scratches or red marks that they noticed following the treatment.
In a prior interview, Dove said anxious parents keep him from getting his work done, which is why he asks them to stay in the waiting room. Using the oral sedation and a papoose board is a good alternative to the expensive hourly fee of having an anesthesiologist put children to sleep.
Dove said his young patients can be "combative," but he denied any truth to the allegations of hitting.
"I'm in the room with two women at all times," he said in the August interview.
Parents such as Brooke Catalfamo, who has also filed a complaint with the Dental Board, said she's interested in hearing more, though she'd like to meet with Moriarty before signing on. Moriarty said he's planning a trip to Bakersfield.
Moriarty said he'd take the case on contingency, which means he wouldn't receive any monetary compensation unless he won a case against Dove.
The main avenue for parents concerned about dental care is to file a complaint with the Dental Board of California. The board won't comment on how many complaints it has received but Cook says dozens of local parents have filed statements. The Californian has reviewed copies of several letters from the Dental Board confirming the complaint filing.
That's not all Cook has been doing. Since the allegations mounted in August, the father of five has been busy sending letters to every agency and individual he can find online, from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Most of the political leaders and government agencies returned simple letters instructing Cook to contact the Dental Board. A letter from Gov. Jerry Brown's office gave Cook hope the case was getting attention.
"I was informed the Board has taken your complaint very seriously," according to the letter signed by Jennifer L. Willis of the Consumer Information Center and Complaint Resolution Program. "As a result, your complaint was immediately turned over to the Board's Southern California Enforcement Office for further investigation." The letter went on to mention a specific investigator's name who is working on the case.
The Dental Board won't discuss ongoing cases, but spokesman Russ Heimerich said it investigates every complaint it receives. If someone alleges child abuse, it expedites the process.
"If we had reason to believe that was occurring, we have means of shutting down a dentist pending a formal administrative hearing," he said.
He said allegations of physical abuse should also be reported to law enforcement. Earlier this week, a representative from the Bakersfield Police Department said there was no ongoing investigation into Dove.
At the dental board, investigations into the quality of care can take "a while" since they require having an expert review medical records and evaluate whether treatment is within the standard of care, Heimerich said. It also looks at any photographs and interviews witness, parents and children.
So far, the board has taken no action against Dove.
-- Staff writer Jason Kotowski contributed to this report.
(The photo above is of the child treated by Dr. Dove. The front six on the bottom is the child’s. The rest is Dr. Dove’s work. The tooth on the left is Doves cap that broke in half and you can see the infection in his gum line. The child is going to require extensive work and possibly a pediatric partial to correct the mess created by Dr. Dove.)