Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Unnecessary Dental Procedures

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Jun 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Many people hate going to the dentist. However, proper dental care is necessary to keep a healthy smile. Sometimes a dental procedure is necessary to fill a cavity, fix a broken tooth, or address an infection. Unfortunately, some dentists are performing unnecessarily dental operations to bill Medicare at a higher rate than private insurance. 

Dental Board Punishment for Unnecessary Treatment

According to a USA Today investigation, dental boards rarely punish dentists for unnecessary treatment. Despite hundreds of complaints, state dental boards have a suspension rate of about 0.1% of dentists. Some of the rare times the state board does punish a dentist is based on criminal convictions, including illegally prescribing drugs. 

Dental patients who go to a licensed dentist expect the state to have some oversight or control over the dentist, to have confidence they are being defrauded or recommended to have unnecessary treatment. However, these statistics suggest that a victim of surgical fraud may have to take their dental malpractice case to court to get justice. 

Unnecessary Dental Procedures for Profit

Another investigation found many patients who went to a dentist who claimed they had multiple cavities. With no history of cavities or tooth damage, some of the patients got a second opinion and the next dentist found no cavities at all. 

Dentists and dental chains have been accused of performing unnecessary dental procedures to increase profits. Johannah Lancaster took her 3-year-old son to the dentist in Niles, Ohio. According to the mother, the dentist looked into the child's mouth and said he needed 7 root canals, all without ever taking an X-ray. 

The child continued to suffer complications with the crowns falling off and infection, eventually having to have a number of teeth pulled. The lawsuit against the dentist was settled out of court. The dental board required a remedial training program and agreement to provide patient records. After failing to comply with the requirements, the dentist had his license suspended for one year. 

Criminal Charges Against Hoverboard Dentist

A dentist in Anchorage, Alaska was dubbed the “hoverboard dentist,” for video footage showing the dentist performing a tooth extraction while riding a hoverboard. Seth Lookhart is facing criminal charges based on allegations he performed unnecessary dental procedures on patients. 

Criminal charges include Medicaid fraud, reckless endangerment, and unlawful dental acts. Former patients and former employees testified on behalf of the prosecution to support their claim Lookhart performed unnecessary procedures on Medicaid patients to bill Medicaid at higher rates. Lookhart was found guilty on all 46 counts. 

Damages After Unnecessary Surgery

Any surgery carries a risk of complications, including pain, infection, and even death. Patients who put their care into the hands of doctors and oral surgeons should not have to face those risks for an unneeded procedure. Compensation and damages in a malpractice claim can include: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Future medical care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Scarring or disfigurement

Are You the Victim of Unnecessary Dental Surgery? Contact Us

If you believe that you may be the victim of malpractice because of an unnecessary dental or medical procedure, the Gilman & Bedigian legal team can answer your questions and concerns. We're committed to educating patients and families who have been harmed by doctors and dentists to understand their rights and help obtain compensation. To speak with a member of our personal injury team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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