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Washington Dentist Troubles

Posted on 20. Jul, 2013 by .

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Recently, a few articles appeared on DrBicuspid talking about Washington dentists. One of the dentists is a Washington state dentist, the other is a Washington D.C. dentist.

The first article talks about how a now retired Washington state dentist must pay $35 million to 29 former patients. The reason for this is because the court determined that the former dentist had performed numerous unnecessary root canals over a long period of time.   The article discusses how the retired dentist performed over 2,000 root canals on about 500 patients over a five year span several years ago. The dentist who purchased the retired dentists practice said that a lot of failing root canals and railing crowns were being noticed by the patients coming in. The court in this case found that the dentist was negligent, failed to obtain informed consent from patients, and committed fraud.

The $35 million will be split among the 29 patients in different amounts and both the retired dentist and his insurer will be on the hook for the money. The patient’s in this case feel betrayed because they trusted their dentist. In a previous article titled Are Dentists Ethical or Scam Artists? I discussed how different dentists give you different recommendations and it can be difficult for a reasonable patient to know if the dentist tends to treat higher or lower than the average.

The second article talks about how the  U.S. Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a dental clinic located in Washington, DC, $61,600 for 26 alleged serious violations. A serious citation is issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the ability of the hazard to occur should have been known.  Some of the violations include the dental clinic workers’ being exposed to blood-borne pathogens without an exposure control plan or proper training and the use of inadequate personal protective equipment.

In a case earlier this year Dental Patients Were Warned of Possible HIV and Hepatitis Exposure Due to Oral Surgeon’s Practices. In this case, thousands of patents were told to get tested for HIV and hepatitis if they saw a certain oral surgeon due to potentially lax sterilization practices used. However, in this case the Oklahoma  Board of  Dentistry was the one who appears to have gotten involved and not OSHA.

Sources:

1) http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=rst&pag=dis&ItemID=313817. July 18, 2013. Wash. dentist to pay $35M for unnecessary root canals.

2) http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=313820. July 18, 2013. Washington, DC, dental clinic cited by OSHA.

3) http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021413726_dentistverdictxml.html. July 17, 2013. Dental patients get $35M over unneeded root canals.

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Death and Greed at the Dentist: Is Your Child at Risk?

Posted on 28. Jul, 2012 by .

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A new investigation came out recently by ABC News appearing on both “Nightline” and “World News With Diane Sawyer” looking at sedation deaths from dentistry.

The story is located over on the ABC News website which appeared on July 12, 2012 and is titled “Death, Greet at the Dentist: American Children at Risk.” A synopsis of the investigation appeared on drbicuspid.com on July 13, 2012, titled “ABC News spotlights pediatric dental sedation risks.”

The story over on ABC News opens up with

“American children are being put at risk by inadequately trained dentists who often seek to enhance profits by sedating their young patients for even routine tooth cleaning and cavity treatments.”

In the segment on “Nightline” Brian Ross says

“…it is a scandal in many cases driven by dentists who are told they can increase their bottom line. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra profits by giving their young patients a quick and all too often dangerous dose of sedatives…”

The story on ABC News says

“The ABC News investigation found a patchwork of state regulations with some states requiring only a weekend-long course for dentists to be certified in the administration of oral sedatives.”

As highlighted in the segment by Dr. Norbert Kaminski a dental anesthesiologist interviewed in the segment, a 2 1/2 or 3 day program is not enough to properly learn all the intricacies of dental sedation in dealing with children.

Brian Ross flats out asks in the “Nightline” piece

“…Is that the reason you give sedation, to get rich as a dentist?”

The segments also discuss the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation which has been discussed before on this blog over at http://blog.teethremoval.com/raven-maria-blanco-foundation/.

You can learn more about dental deaths over on the dental death videos page, the death from wisdom teeth removal page, and the dental deaths page.

This segment by ABC News doesn’t go into all the specifics but clearly highlights the need to understand the reasons and rational for having sedation with any dental procedure. In addition, the piece didn’t clarify entirely well that there is clearly different training received by your typical family dentist compared to an oral surgeon.

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Are Dentists Ethical or Scam Artists?

Posted on 24. Sep, 2011 by .

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Recently The Journal of the American Dental Association has been running some “Ethical Moments” regarding dentists. This is purely propaganda and should not be taken at face value.

For example Jeffrey C. Esterburg wrote an article titled Are Dentists Losing Their Status as Professionals? (J Am Dent Assoc, 2011; 142, 1084-1085).

He opens up the article saying

“As a new dentist, I am becoming increasingly concerned that what it means to be a dental professional is being lost in the eyes of the public and our vendors and consultants.”

He goes on to discuss some conflicting pressures he is faced with running his dental practice. He then goes on to discuss the American Dental Association Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.

He closes the article by saying

“The size of our hearts defines our success much more than does the size of our practices, homes or bank accounts. That is what sets us apart from the trades. Go ahead and tell anyone you wish.”

In another article by  Rod B. Wentworth titled “What are the Ethical Issues I Need to Consider When Developing Marketing Strategies for My Practice” ( J Am Dent Assoc, 2011; 142; 966-967)

He ends the article by saying

“Marketing is an important part of all business interactions with the public. In our profession, we provide care based on the trust our patients place in us. They expect us to be truthful and put their health ahead of our bottom line. As long as we market our services in an honest manner that maintains that trust, we will continue to meet our professional responsibility.”

Looking around at some postings on the internet tell a different story

For example over at Glock Talk is a post titled Dentists are scam artists http://www.glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=17661259

One person says in response to “I hope your wife can enjoy dentistry for a long time, too.”

“Nah. She’s busy employing high-pressure sales tactics to perform unnecessary expensive procedures on people with perfect teeth so she can pay for her fancy office, nice car and retire early.”

Another comment

Many dentists I’ve met are no better than car mechanics who bilk old ladies. The difference is that we are all old ladies when it comes to dental knowledge.”

Another example over at Bogleheads in an article titled Dental scams you have known and loved http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=79176&sid=b7226c0c5f3e9b8f0d865ed8d56076dd

“When I told my dentist of 20 years that I was retiring, and would no longer have dental insurance, she suddenly recommended a flurry of various kinds of fillings/treatments, etc.  Oddly, she never suggested any extra work prior to that conversation. I always had a clean bill of health.  And the dental hygienist took me aside one day, and told me privately that it was unnecessary to have full-mouth x-rays twice a year (which they insisted I do, when I was insured.) He said having one routine x-ray every two years was more than adequate. “

In another comment

“My aunt is a dentist and she tells me they are very aggressive with sales. They have a lot of tuition to pay back after dental school and they make a lot less than doctors while having almost the same student loan burdens after graduation.”

In another thread over on City-Data titled Know an Honest Dentist http://www.city-data.com/forum/phoenix-area/197961-know-honest-dentist.html

One of the comments

“It seems like a lot of the dentists in the valley are all about money and encourage procedures when none are needed. A lot of them have glamorous offices with elaborate fish tanks that cost in the thousands. It seems like a racket much like going to a shady auto mechanic.”

Over at a blog in a post titled Scam artists AKA Dentists http://allinmytwenties.blogspot.com/2011/07/scam-artists-aka-dentists.html Kristen says:

“So basically a lot of dentists are SCAM ARTISTS if you ask me. I mean how in the world would a regular person really have any clue what they need. Thats why we go to the dentist and trust them to do their jobs! Geeeezzz…. what has the world come too?

I have no desire to be called a ‘consumer’ in the healthcare system. I am a patient and hope my hard earned dollars will be able to give me healthcare when I need it that is of high quality care and based on the latest and best available scientific evidence.

I don’t have any time nor desire to screw around with anything less so I really hope medical professionals are ethical when I see them.

Clearly there are honorable dentists in practice but finding which one to trust can be difficult for patients.  See for example the article titled “Wanted: An Honest Dentist” http://money.msn.com/health-and-life-insurance/article.aspx?post=80dec1ef-6790-4ba5-95a1-a01b28f83e4e

The problem becomes when you see different dentists is they can you give very different recommendations. So how does one reasonably determine if the dentist tends to undertreat or tends to overtreat or somewhere in between?

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Awareness Campaign to Prevent Unnecessary Tooth Extractions

Posted on 17. Mar, 2011 by .

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The Saving Teeth Awareness Campaign has been launched in the United Kingdom to provide information to those patients in need who have a tooth infection as this will lead to bone loss and potential loss of that tooth. http://www.savingteeth.co.uk/index.htm

The campaign’s goal boils down to

“If a tooth can be saved, it is the best choice.”

The campaign wants to make those aware that root canal treatment is the first choice when a tooth is infected. Many will instead have the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge or dental implant but they want to try to save as many teeth from extractions as possible.

An endodontist is a specialist that will often perform root canal therapy

The Root Canal Awareness Week will occur in the United States from March 27 to April 2, 2011. http://www.aae.org/rcaw/ The poster from The American Association of Endodontists (AEE) in promotion of Root Canal Awareness week says

“Root canals don’t cause pain—they relieve it! In fact, modern root canals are virtually painless.”

 

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Bringing Teeth Back to Life

Posted on 25. Nov, 2010 by .

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This post may sound a bit futuristic, but it is just one of the many ways nanotechnology can play a great role in impacting our lives. A study appearing in ACS Nano, describes a nano sized dental firm which could be used for bringing a diseased tooth back to life instead of leaving the tooth dead via a root canal.

Nadia Benkirane-Jessel and colleagues state in the report that root canal procedures help prevent tooth loss in millions of people each year. During  a root canal a dentist removes the painful, inflamed pulp, the soft tissue inside the diseased or injured tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. An area called regenerative endodontics in which the development and delivery of tissues to replace diseased or damaged dental pulp could become the future.

The researchers have developed a multilayered, nano-sized film which contains a substance called alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone that could help regenerate dental pulp. The substance has anti-inflammatory properties and in the lab has been shown to fight  inflammation in dental pulp fibroblasts. This has the consequences of being able to  help revitalize damaged teeth and reduce the need for a root canal procedure which surely would please many.

Source: Fioretti et al. Nanostructured Assemblies for Dental Application. ACS Nano, 2010; 4 (6): 3277

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