Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oh where, oh where has Small Smiles gone, oh where, oh where can it be…

smallsmilesFebruary is “National Children’s Oral Health Month”. Normally Small Smiles Dental Centers lead dentists (or fake owner dentists) slither from under their rock and hit local morning TV talk shows, claiming they are having free services that very morning for a couple of hours. So far, I’ve not seen hide nor hair of them in 2013. Kool Smiles Dental centers at least announced they gave away toothbrushes this year. (Geez, I hope they weren’t those chemical-laden ones from China that leave blisters in your mouth.)

Small Smiles “free services day” were a sneaky ploy. The dentists would appear on local talk shows about 6 AM announcing they were having free services that morning; from 9AM-11AM for example. They would invite the public, telling them they needed to call for an appointment; failing to mentioning the schedule was already packed tight as sardines – as they were everyday.

It was last year about this time they were preparing documents to file bankruptcy in Nashville’s Federal Court and closing several clinics (updates on that coming soon). By June the OIG forced them to divest in at least one clinic; personally I think it was more than one, Manassas, Virginia clinic for sure. (Let’s just say, whoever took over Manassas, also took the Pueblo, Colorado clinic as well. See: Violations of Corporate Integrity Agreement Triggers Divestiture Action by HHS OIG.

“It is clear that the defendants’ actions constituted more than just malpractice.” –Judge John Cherundo, Onondaga County Superior Court

By August 2012, Small Smiles Dental Centers were taking serious hits in the malpractice cases file against them. In 2011, families of at least 75 children had filed lawsuits in New York against the Small Smiles Dental Centers. Judge John C. Cherundo denied the companies request to dismiss the cases saying, “This intentional misconduct was part of the of the alleged scheme to generate revenue as quickly as possible”. 

In his decision, Judge Cherundo further stated, “The defendant appear to have intended to injure the infant plaintiff’s by subjecting them to harmful and unnecessary dental procedures well before they stepped though the door at the Small Smiles Clinic.”  If Small Smiles and CSHM, LLC think a jury will feel any differently they are fools.

In their Motion Small Smiles and CHSM, LLC claimed they had no intention of doing any further business in New York, and had closed their three New York clinics. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure they had a choice in the matter, as they were shut out of the state’s Medicaid program, again)  One of their clinics had been shut out in May of 2008. However with the advice from their attorney and the stroke of the pen (or in Small Smiles speak, the ink of the rubber stamp) the Albany clinic was put into the name of another doctor. They slapped up a new sign over the front door and it was business as usual.

The first of three trials slated in New York Superior Court was set to begin this month – February 2013, but apparently has been pushed to May.