By Austin L. Miller
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 9:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 9:52 p.m.
A dentist whose license was suspended Wednesday by the state on allegations of possible child abuse was also the subject of four complaints to Ocala police, but the complaints were determined to be unfounded.
Ocala police detectives investigated the complaints and sent their findings to the State Attorney's Office for review. The criteria for child abuse was not met in any of the complaints, authorities said.
In the four cases, the parents said they took their children — ranging in age from 18 months to 7 years — to Polliwog Dental at 255 SE 17th St., Ocala, for procedures and later said there were signs of abuse, officials stated.
Two of the four cases also were sent to the state Department of Health. That agency ordered the emergency suspension of Dr. Michael Addair Tarver, owner of Polliwog Dental, on Wednesday. Tarver is a board-certified pediatric dentist.
Tarver, in an email to the Star-Banner on Wednesday, vigorously denied the allegations and said he has hired an attorney to fight the accusations.
The DOH concluded that the 33-year-old dentist violated several state statutes and patient trust, and altered patient records. In one instance, the DOH said, a 4-year-old girl stopped breathing during a dental procedure and had to resuscitated, but her parents were never notified about the incident. His actions, the DOH stated, "demonstrates that he cannot reasonably be expected to comply with any sanction short of suspension."
Tarver could not be reached Thursday to discuss the four cases, which included:
OPD received a report from the state Child Abuse Hotline in April 2013 alleging that a dentist, later identified as Tarver, placed his hand over a 7-year-old girl's mouth and nose to prevent her from screaming. The child lost consciousness. She was interviewed at Kimberly's Center for Child Protection and said she was scared and ran down a hallway to get to her mother. The girl said Tarver and a woman chased her down the hallway and when she tried to go through the door that led to the lobby, the door was locked. The girl said the dentist picked her up and covered her mouth and nose and she had trouble breathing. Her tooth was pulled and she was released, but when she got home, she noticed her lip was cut.
Detective Stephanie McQuaig interviewed Tarver, who said he remembered the girl because she behaved badly. He said she ran down the hallway kicking and screaming at the staff. He denied putting his hand around her mouth. He did say the child had to be sedated "due to her extremely poor behavior."
A 3-year-old boy allegedly received a 1½ inch laceration in the middle of his forehead.
An officer interviewed the boy's mother at the children's emergency department at Munroe Regional Medical Center in late June 2013. She said her son was in the back of the dental office getting a check-up when a dental assistant came and told her there had been an accident and her son needed stitches. She said before she was able to see her son, the employee went over the billing and medical procedures.
The officer asked the businesses employees, including Tarver, about calling medical personnel, and Tarver said he is emergency medicine-certified and did not see the need to call them.
Officials said the child's mother took her son to the hospital. He was unable to tell her exactly what occurred, other than he hit the wall.
The mother of an 18-month-old boy said that in October 2012, she took her son to the dental office for a routine examination and after 30 minutes was concerned and asked to see her child. She said she saw the boy, then he was in a room again and did not emerge for 30 minutes. She said she then saw welts and scratch marks on the boy's left arm. She said staffers offered to put alcohol, Neosporin and a Band-Aid on the injury.
The parents of a 4-year-old girl said the child went to the office to have a cavity filled in June 2013. They told the dentist the child was only to receive local anesthesia. The procedure, the parents said, took four hours and after the girl was released, she was "unsteady and weaving." The child was crying and had urinated on herself. The girl had redness on her cheeks and a cut inside her mouth, just behind her bottom front teeth, the report stated.
Because of privacy laws, it is not known if the above case is one of the incidents cited by the DOH on Wednesday in outlining their case for Tarver's suspension. In the DOH report, their records state that in June 2013 a child's mother stated that the child was not to receive general anesthesia but Tarver reportedly ignored the order. The girl had lacerations on her cheek and inside her mouth, bruises on her neck and shoulders, and had urinated on herself.
Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118 or firstname.lastname@example.org.