Saturday, March 18, 2017

Texas State Board of Dental Examiners Refers Investigation to Local Police Departments. Should People Just Call 911 Bypassing the Board Completely?

Debbie-color-sm (6) 12-31-2016By: Debbie Hagan

Last week, News 4 in San Antonio, Texas ran a story about how the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners farms out it’s duties to the local police station instead of investigating themselves. Thanks to a tipster, who says the dental board isn’t the least bit interested in making any changes, I’m publishing the story here, not to critique the story but to comment on the luncy of the content.

Dental board refers out criminal investigations

by APRIL MOLINA

March 14, 2017

“The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners receives dozens of complaints each year; among them, drug diversion and addiction, practicing dentistry without a license and dentists performing unnecessary work.”

Uh, I would say it’s more like hundreds of complaints; maybe even thousands.

"It is I think appropriate that the dental board evaluate all complaints and if they find wrongdoing, either civil or criminal, then it's incumbent upon our dental agency, our dental board to take action," said Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner.”

The citizens of Texas think the board should as well, but over the last several years, I think they have seen the dental board take less and less action. In fact I would say the TSBDE is the least effective of all dental boards, well maybe other than California.

“The dental board has always investigated the administrative side of complaints and for more than a decade board investigators have also had the ability to conduct criminal investigations, often handing cases over to the local district attorneys for prosecution.”

"In hopes of protecting my community and protecting the citizens of Texas I passed this bill that gave them the capacity to have licensed peace officers," said State Senator Jose Menendez.

Menendez's 2003 law enabled the dental board to hire experienced dental investigators with the authority to investigate criminal cases without delay.”

Apparently the TSBDE were not doing their job in 2003 either! Over 14 very long years later, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners have had the full force for the law behind them to investigate criminal acts of dentists? WOW! Who knew, right? I bet Lisa Jones, the Director of Investigations, should, could and would put the handcuffs on the criminals.

“In late 2016, a whistleblower tipped off the News 4 Trouble Shooters that a decision was made to re-direct criminal investigations at the end of 2015.”

“Re-direct” to where? To be “re-directed” they have to have once been “directed” to someone or someplace, right?

“3 months after Executive Director, Kelly Parker, took over, the director of investigations sent out this email to staff: "Per Kelly, as of today, we will no longer investigate the criminal aspects of a complaint. We will not be filing cases directly with the D.A. any longer. If you have a case with a criminal element, work the administrative side of it and refer the criminal elements to a local police department with jurisdiction."

Say what!! 3 months in and she took this approach? Who hired this Kelly Parker, anyway? And who is she to decide? Clearly, the ED has way too much power. Who’s directing the Director?

At a hearing of the Committee on Public Health in 2012 Lisa Jones, Director of Enforcement for the TSBDE stated she had been with the board for 10 years and Director of Enforcement for over 7. At the hearing Jones stated there had been 153 case of fraud reported and only 5 dentists in 5 years had their licenses revoked or voluntarily surrendered. When asked about cases turned over the local District Attorney’s Jones stated in the last 2 years they had turned over 200 cases and only 5 had some sort of conviction. Lisa Jones is still the Director of Investigations.

The Executive Director at the time was Glenn Parker, who couldn’t attend, but sent a letter. Committee Chair Lois Kolkhorst read from a letter sent in by Glenn Parker, where he made it clear local District Attorneys were reluctant to prosecute these cases, since murders and such took precedence. So, are you telling me, Executive Director of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, Kelly Parker, thinks sending a file over to the local cop’s desk would get better results!

SERIOUSLY!!

Kelly, hon, you have a Director of Investigations, right there in your office. I bet you see her at least one or two times a week. She gets paid to “investigate”. Yet you believe you and your office staff are just too busy with ….uh…work….uh… so important that the local police station should do it! I can’t even get my head around that!

Where are you going to “re-direct” the investigations next, the local dog catcher’s desk?

“Parker would not agree to an interview, but sent us this statement: "Other agencies exist for the purpose of pursuing the criminal violation and it would be wasteful and redundant for the dental board to do so, too."

Well, Good God Almighty! Taxpayers wouldn’t want any ‘waste”! (sarcasm)

Ms. Parker, for years, those same agencies along with the state legislators—and the public— have been asking why your agency has done little to nothing to take care of dental related crimes and violations. Earn that $92,000 a year, darlin’! Now, there’s some “waste” for you to ponder.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Facts Reveal ALEC “Overregulation Threatens Market-Driven Soultions in Dentistry” Study is Pure Crap!

By: Debbie Hagan

The below story was posted on Group Dentistry Now; the propaganda machine for the Dental Support Organization(DSO) industry. I first called the whole story “horse shit” but I was wrong—when I’m wrong I’ll admit it. I now need to make that correction and rephrase; it is utter “bull shit”. And this ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), well, it’s the “horse shit”. (see ALEC Exposed) and has been under scrutiny for a very long time; some questioning if is even legal—google it. Of course this makes it a perfect match for the DSO industry, right?  ALEC chairman of the board is Mr. W. Preson Baldwin, from the lobbyist group Centerpoint360, which received $442k from the Association of Dental Support Organizations in 2015. (see page 8 of the ADSO tax return) Centerpoint360, received $268K in 2014. Now read the story with the hidden facts revealed. When you are finished ask yourself this: “If it’s so overregulated, why are three of the four examples listed, citing state legislation or regulation was only “sought” and not passed or simply withdrawn completely. Sounds to me like the title should have read “Underregulation Boosts Market-Driven Solutions in Dentistry”.

 

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Posted By: GroupDentistryNow March 16, 2017

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recently published a 12 page research paper entitled, ‘Overregulation Threatens Market-Driven Solutions in Dentistry’.  ALEC is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators and stakeholders from across the policy spectrum, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States.

In the paper, the author, Mia Palmieri Heck, discusses and analyzes the increasing regulatory and legislative efforts to restrict and even ban dental support organizations in several states.  The ALEC study points to the many benefits of dental support organizations, including increased access to care, lower cost of providing that care, and better patient outcomes when dentists are free from the distraction of non-clinical (support) activities. For a list of clinical (services only a licensed dentist can do) versus non-clinical activities (duties which may be provided by a non-dentist), please see graphic below.

Even with all of the aforementioned benefits, dental licensing boards in several states have tried to limit or restrict dentists’ ability to contract with a dental support organization through regulatory and legislative means.  The main function of a state dental licensing board should be to protect paients from harm, as well as to monitor, regulate, and oversee the licensing process.  The licensing board should not be in the business of creating anti-competitive regulations and legislation to benefit and protect the solo practice owners that may sit on the board.

Example of state overregulation of DSOs:

  • North Carolina – [2015] The Unites States Supreme Court ultimately confirmed the findings of a lower court that the NC Board of Dental Examiners had unreasonably restrained trade in violation of the federal antitrust laws.
  • Texas – [2014, 2015] The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners proposed new rules restricting the ability of dentists to enter into contracts with ‘unlicensed persons’ for non-clinical functions.  The board also tried to expand its authority to take disciplinary action against dentists who chose to contract with a DSO.  The board received numerous public comments and letters protesting these proposed rules, including a letter from the Federal Trade Commission.  These proposed rules were eventually withdrawn by the board.
  • Maryland – [2014, 2016] Maryland’s state board tried to adopt regulations making it nearly impossible for DSOs to operate in the state, even though dental support organizations have operated in Maryland for decades.  The MD administration did not approve these regulations, so the MD state dental association and board of dental examiners sought legislation restricting the business functions a DSO could provide.
  • Wisconsin – [2015]  The Wisconsin state dental association sought legislation that would give the dental board authority to regulate dental support organizations on matters related to non-clinical activities.  The bill did not pass mainly due to state legislators, many of whom are members of ALEC.

Mia Palmieri Heck

Heck is Director of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force.  She leads the nationwide effort to promote free-market, pro-patient health care reforms at the state level. In her immediate past position she served as an executive at a Texas-based child and family services provider, where she led the strategic planning and program development efforts for the agency.

To review the entire study, which is the source for the majority of the content in this piece, click HERE.

See all of the ADSO tax returns here

Monday, March 13, 2017

Comfort Dental Agrees to Washington State Permanent Cease and Desist

 
By: Michael W Davis, DDS, Guest Contributor
Dr. Michael DavisDr. Michael W. Davis maintains a general dental practice in Santa Fe, NM. He serves as chairperson for Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review. Dr. Davis also provides a fair amount of dental expert legal work for attorneys. 
 
 



Comfort Dental Group, et al, a Colorado corporate dental entity has signed and accepted a Consent Agreement (permanent cease and desist order) with the Washington State Department of Health, on February 28, 2017. Comfort Dental admits engaging in the unlicensed and unlawful practice of dentistry. Comfort Dental was active in the sales and management of so-called sub-franchised dental practices, outside the bounds of Washington statutes.

Unlicensed parties, and not duly licensed dentists of dental practices, were selecting dental laboratories for patients, dental supplies, office supplies, & janitorial services. The dental corporation's restrictive covenant on doctors was deemed overly restrictive and outside the bounds Washington statues. Further, Comfort Dental's restrictions on the ability of a doctor to transfer their practice ownership was also deemed unlawful. The 5% "royalty" fee Comfort Dental charged licensed doctors on gross collections was determined unlawful, as it allowed Comfort Dental an excessive beneficial ownership in dental practices.

Respondents of Comfort Dental agreed to Pay a fine of $340,000, agreed to the permanent cease and desist order to discontinue their unlicensed and unlawful practice of dentistry in Washington, and reform each of their Washington State dentist contracts to comply with state law.
Reporter's note: This outcome in Washington State, in which the dental profession, public and state government stood up for consumer rights, is in stark contrast to Colorado. In Colorado, the dental profession and state legislators capitulated to the interests of corporate dentistry and Comfort Dental.

Reporter's note: Here's an interesting facet to this story. If Comfort Dental fully complies w/ their consent agreement w/in an allotted time frame, their $340,000 fine will be reduced to $25,000. However, in public record evidence submitted in the earlier legal action of Drs Carl & Craig Bahr, verus Comfort Dental, et al. (case now settled & sealed), in an email from Comfort Dental founder & president Dr Rick Kushner, he stated that w/out control of the dental lab, Comfort Dental wouldn't be viable as it is today (loss of corporate control & money). It seems the Comfort Dental business model (as it exists today) may collapse, w/out control of the lab & mandatory lab utilization by franchisees (dentists). This is seemingly at distinct odds w/ expressed terms of the settlement w/ WA State.
Evidence of the earlier cited civil case clearly demonstrated problematic issues w/ the mandated dental laboratory, which was operated by Dr Kushner's brother. One might assume doctors would be free to select what dental lab operated in their patients' best interests. However, that's almost NEVER the case w/ corporate dentistry.
So, now it will come down to a serious effort at state enforcement. Is the WA State AG's office a paper tiger, or a true protector of the public interest & enforcer of the rule of law? We'll see..
Related: TOXIC TROIKA FOR DENTAL PATIENTS











Thursday, March 09, 2017

Lawyers battle over whether dental procedure was necessary for child who died

imageBy: Jennifer Kendall
Posted:Mar 08 2017 10:28PM CST
Updated:Mar 08 2017 10:28PM CST
Wednesday, lawyers argued in district court about whether a 14-month-old who died after a dental procedure in North Austin actually needed dental work done.
A medical examiner's report said Daisy Lynn Torres died due to complications of anesthesia, but part of the report has led to a defamation lawsuit against a forensic dentist
Read the entire report here


Dr. Michael Melanson was an employee of Austin Children's Dentistry, whose President is Brian J. Peters.
Austin Chilldrens Dentistry-Brian Peters-President-sos-tx
Searching the address Brian J. Peters has listed returns results for Southern Pecan Plantation Manufactured Housing Community, owned by Peters’ parents, Robert and Carol Peters.




Whistleblower claims Dental Authority used Restrictive Advertising Guidelines to try to Curb Overzealous Cosmetic Training Program

Special Report:

Did a Canadian Dental Authority have serious concerns about a training program that promoted Cosmetic Over-treatment of Patients and look the other way due to a business relationship?

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada- Former dental council member dentist-author Michael Zuk DDS is asking the Health Minister to look into concerns with connections between a harmful 'cosmetic dentist' training program in the USA, a Canadian dental lab and the Alberta dental authority. According to the general dentist, Canadian and American dentists were brainwashed into flying their patients to Las Vegas for irreversible and sometimes harmful cosmetic veneer makeovers where the professionals were unlicensed and unlikely to be covered by malpractice insurance. He claims the local authority looked the other way due to a close business relationship with the primary dental lab that profited from the additional porcelain work. The dentist was contacted by a victim who had complications after aesthetic treatment within this training program sharing that her complaint was ignored by the authority and this inspired him to speak out about the problem. The dental authority retaliated after Zuk published his book Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist in 2010 with fears the truth would ‘harm the reputation of the dental profession.’

The dentist claims the dental authority decided to make an example of one dentist who had been a known attendee of the cosmetic training program in spite of the fact that she did the right thing in recommending a less aggressive treatment alternative of orthodontics instead of ‘instant ortho’ with veneers. The known risk of more aggressive crown/veneer preparations to straighten teeth is root canal complications, and when this occurred after the patient refused traditional orthodontics, the dental authority had the opportunity to indirectly address the concern. Dr. Zuk suggests the dental authority should known patients have the right to accept treatment alternatives with higher risks after they have been provided with the choices. No treatment is without risks and even orthodontics can result in damage to teeth so a exhaustive war against one ‘cosmetic dentist’ was unwarranted and an honest discussion within and outside the profession should have been made. 

A second indirect action against the wave of cosmetic dental mania was against the use of the term ‘cosmetic dentist’ and office trade names containing the words ‘cosmetic dentistry’. Another dentist was selected to be disciplined for this concern, which is usually considered a practice preference or area of interest and not professional misconduct. Again the dentist was found guilty and suspended.

The third attack related to cosmetic dentistry was against Dr. Zuk’s book claiming the authority did not protect the public from over-treatment and his promotion of a more conservative cosmetic treatment called ‘shorter term orthodontics’. The dentist was found guilty of professional misconduct and the complaint director who was also suing the dentist for $3M for criticism of her performance recommended a suspension of 5 years and costs of $270,000 even though no patient complaint was involved. While the council and appeal committee reduce the actual term to 12 months and approximately $176,000 CAN this was still an amount that would lead the author to appeal to the court system.

The problem with sponsored training courses was not isolated to the dental profession, and as an example physicians realized their treatment recommendations were affected by educational programs backed by certain pharmaceutical companies. Bias is a common problem with programs and research that supports the information may be tainted by financial interests. Besides cosmetic dentistry, most dental services are affected in some way by the promotions of the products and services within the dental industry including lasers and less exotic gizmos that may or may not make treatment safer, more affordable, faster or better.

So to summarize, the dental authority had a concern with a particular cosmetic training program, then suspended a dentist whose patient had a few non-life-threatening complications that were known to be relatively common with the treatment provided, then suspended a dentist who named his practice a ‘cosmetic’ dental office and then suspended a dentist who wrote about problems with cosmetic dentistry and promoted less aggressive alternatives that are used across the globe. The authority had published an internal document written by Dr. Gordon Christensen titled ‘I Have Had Enough’ which profiles the US prosthodontists concerns about the cosmetic dentistry becoming ‘a monster, promoting irreversible treatment on patients’ but the dental authority refused to admit that the public interest was more important than the integrity of the profession. 

In his latest e-book ‘The Ugly Truth about Cosmetic Dentistry’ currently available at no cost through a link on the website AlbertaDentalAssociationProblems.com, Dr. Zuk shares the connection between the dental authority and the suspect dental training program which, according to a malpractice lawyer in San Francisco and an expert witness, was associated with numerous cases of gross over-treatment of unsuspecting dental patients.

The dentist claims dental authorities had misgivings about this specific cosmetic training program but did not take any steps to warn the public, and this according to Dr. Zuk, has been confirmed in writing by a former high level executive from the dental authority. “Instead of taking this problem public, the dental authority addressed the concerns about aggressive promotion of veneer treatment with an elaborate mess of advertising guidelines that banned dentists from discussing the courses attended, use of the terms like ‘smile makeover’ and forbidding dentists from using before & after photos of dental treatment. The authority was clearly were more worried about harming the relationship with the dental lab owner who they awarded with an honorary membership in the dental association than they were with the harm caused to dental patients. The financial support of this large Canadian lab allowed the training program to reach out to dentists and patients across North America. While many patients were likely pleased with their new smiles, many could have been treated with less expensive and less risky alternatives with comparable results. Many cosmetic dentists are not treating patients with bleaching, bonding and braces rather than veneers. Veneer treatment can be the best or worst treatment choice, but the training program at the time was pushing porcelain as a cure-all and many patients were harmed physically and financially in the process,” says Zuk.

The outspoken dentist who appeared on an investigative television program CBC Marketplace- Money Where Your Mouth Is -where a 15 year-old girl was told by a different dental professional that she needed most of her health teeth ‘capped’ due to some sensitivity that was later treated successfully by Dr. Zuk with Sensodyne toothpastes. Zuk notified the provincial Health Minister and the Competition Bureau of Canada with numerous concerns with about the dental authority’s mismanagement, excessive advertising regulation that limits competition and lack of whistleblower protection. Dr. Zuk is planning a documentary on the subject and is interviewing patients who were flown to Las Vegas for cosmetic dental treatment during the 1990’s and dentists who attended the program and now regret some of the treatment that was promoted.

For more information contact Dr. Michael Zuk directly at 403-347-8008.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Significance of Criminal Indictment to Dr. Edward R. Hills

Significance of Criminal Indictment to Dr. Edward R. Hills
By: Michael W. Davis, DDS, Guest Contributor
[image%255B2%255D.png]
Dr. Michael W. Davis maintains a private general practice in Santa Fe, NM. He also advocates for disadvantaged citizens, and provides expert legal work for numbers of attorney clients. His publications and lectures are on ethical and whistleblower issues within the dental profession, as well as numbers of clinical research papers. 
 
 
 

hillsDr. Edward R. Hills was formally indicted on October, 19, 2016, by the US Justice Department for a variety of alleged criminal violations, in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Eastern Division). Co-defendants included three other dentists, Drs. Sari Alqsous, Yazan B. Al-Madani, and Tariq Sayegh. The government contends Dr. Hills and other defendants engaged in a variety of actions inclusive of Medicaid fraud, bribery, extortion, interference in a federal investigation, witness tampering, tax fraud, defrauding of a non-profit hospital, an interstate kickback scheme, and racketeering. The government also invoked claims of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) violations. The indictment was laid out similarly to an action against an organized crime figure and their subordinate mob crew. [Click here to read 93-page, 33-count indictment: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3178765/MetroHealth-Indictment.pdf ]
 
metro healthDr. Hills formerly served as chief operations officer (COO) for Cleveland’s MetroHealth Hospitals from 2010-2014. During that tenure, his salary ranged from over $400,000 to just under $3/4 Mil per year. He also served for 6-months as interim chief executive officer (CEO), following a previous scandal and resignation by Mark Moran at MetroHealth. In this capacity, Dr. Hills had direct supervisory control of the dental residency post-graduate program (which the three other defendants directly ran). Dr. Hills also served on the Ohio State Dental Board from 1999-2008. From 2001-2004, Dr. Hills was the president of the state dental board.

Alleged Extortion of Dental Residents
The government contends foreign national doctors were shaken down (extorted) for cash to apply to the dental residency program at MetroHealth. They were further extorted for additional cash to maintain their dental residency positions. Residents were also forced to work for no compensation, at two private clinics owned and operated by two of the defendants (Noble Dental Clinic & Buckeye Family Dental).

Many of the dental resident doctors were Jordanian citizens, and required an H1B (green card) work visa to obtain an Ohio dental license. Without a green card visa sponsored by an employer (Dr. Hills and/or his crew), these doctors were not eligible for licensure, as they were not US citizens. Obviously, these dental resident doctors were in a particularly vulnerable position.

Double Dipping
Two dentists of Dr. Hills’ crew were allegedly accepting full-time incomes from MetroHealth, as preceptors of the dental residency program, and at the same time running two large scale private dental practices. These were the same private dental clinics were resident doctors were allegedly required to deliver patient dental care, without compensation. These same two crew members allegedly benefited unlawfully, by having MetroHealth fully pay their malpractice insurance premiums.

Dr. Hills allegedly authorized substantial bonuses from accounts at MetroHealth for these two alleged dentist conspirators, in their frequently no-show supervisor jobs (under $93,000 in 4 years). In exchange, payoffs were allegedly afforded Dr. Hills. Kickbacks allegedly included a lap-top and an apartment to entertain Dr. Hills’ girlfriend, bedroom furniture, cash (hundreds of thousands of dollars), a Louis Vuitton briefcase, airplane tickets for the lovers, a flat screen TV, and controlled prescription medications (exact medication name redacted from indictment).

Friday, March 03, 2017

Lawsuit Filed Against Dr. Michael Melanson et. al. Over Death of 14 Month Old Daisy Lynn Torres

 

 

image

 

Thursday, March 02, 2017 09:26AM

AUSTIN, TX (KTRK) --

The family of the 14-month-old girl who died after a visit to the dentist has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Austin Children's Dentistry.

The toddler died while under anesthesia for multiple baby root canals and crowns on four of her teeth.

Her parents believe it was part of a Medicaid scam and are suing the dentist and the anesthesiologist who worked on her.
The cause of death of Daisy Lynn Torres, who died on March 29, 2016, was determined to be the result of anesthesia administered for the treatment of tooth decay, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

"We haven't heard much, so we are kind of just taking action here, getting some answers so we can get some justice going on," said Elizandro Torres, Daisy Lynn's father. "We want this to be heard so that it doesn't happen again." …

 

…The lawsuit claims the girl's death was part of a corporate scheme to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures. Her parents are now suing for $1 million. Their attorney, Sean Breen, told us Tuesday night they hope this lawsuit will protect other children from the dangers of pediatric predators and their money-making schemes.

"A big component of people that use Medicaid happens to be people who are low income and sometimes not as formally educated as others and they make for very good targets because they are trusting," said Breen, with Howry Breen & Herman.

Breen says other families have come forward saying their children were also underwent unnecessary dental work at Austin Children's Dentistry…

Read the entire ABC 13 story here.


More on Dr. Michael Melanson

Dr. Melanson was the fake owner dentist for non-dentist Brian Lynne Walker who owns North End Healthcare, LLC. North End owns and operates 3 ambulatory surgery centers (ASC): Houston Children’s Dental Center, San Antonio Children’s Surgical, and DFW Children’s Surgery Center. All designed exclusively for sedation dental procedures. In fact the website of these clinics list their “privileged” providers and they are only dentists, oral surgeons and endodontists. April 29, 2016, exactly 30 days of the death of Daisy Torres, North End Healthcare began to change its name to Blue Cloud Pediatric Surgery Centers and scrub Dr. Michael Melanson’s name from their website;, replacing Melanson with Dr. Ketan Sukkawala as “owner”.

Being Melanson works for a group that owns surgery centers one must wonder why he didn’t use one of those facilities. Or at the very least understand the need to sedate babies somewhere other than his office!