By Michael W. Davis, DDS, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer
January 9, 2014 -- In the first of this two-part series, Dr. Davis explained how the present degree of dental Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse is not sustainable and how it is slowly changing. Read that part here.
In reaction to the public's concern about the excessive abuse of child restraints, a number of Medicaid mills have jumped onto the conscious sedation bandwagon. The best option of treatment is to sedate in a hospital setting with IV sedation, a properly trained anesthesiologist to continually monitor the child's vital signs, with reversal medications at the ready, and the capability of nearly instantaneous airway resuscitation. Since Medicaid often doesn't pay adequately for hospital cases, the children's safety is too-often compromised.
Too often, the dentist has little-to-no advanced life support training. A child going into shock from an adverse drug reaction already has tiny blood vessels in which to attempt to stick an IV line. Their airway is small and often further compromised by enlarged tonsils, with a natural anatomy that already appears anatomically constricted and funnel-like.
I won't say it's not feasible to do this care properly, but a doctor has to deliver conscious sedation (often involving multiple drugs) and monitor all vital signs, while simultaneously roundhousing sedated children with steel crowns and pulpotomies. However, under the present Medicaid program, there are huge financial disincentives to provide this style of care properly. Corners get cut and children get harmed, too often permanently.
So, what is the fallout for the dental profession? Certainly the negative press has added a degree of distrust from the public. Trust is difficult to obtain and easily lost. And once lost, it's even more difficult to regain.