I’ve been litigating malpractice cases for over 20 years, and I have to say that it doesn’t get much worse than this: using a stainless steel paperclip in place of a stainless steel post during a root canal treatment. A dentist who admits that he made such appalling substitutions in the course of dental treatment, is set to be sentenced.
Last week, the dentist pleaded guilty to a range of charges. He admits that he used part of a paperclip in place of stainless steel posts to support a root canal on a patient. Besides dental negligence, the negligent dentist faces several other charges. According to investigators, he fraudulently billed Medicaid by performing dental procedures and having other dentists in his practice bill it to Medicaid. In all, he allegedly defrauded Medicaid out of approximately $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005. During this time, he had been prohibited from working on Medicaid patients.
The charges also included drug charges against him. He used to prescribe addictive painkillers like hydrocodone and Percocet to members of the staff. The staff would procure the medications and give some of them to him.
The case against him was built over a period of 4 years. Investigators first became alerted about his Medicaid fraud in 2005, and launched an investigation. Over 4 years, investigators compiled all patient records that were needed to develop a strong case against him. The case was presented before a grand jury. He entered a guilty plea, and is due to be sentenced next week. Because of the multiple charges, the negligent dentist is likely to be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence. The Medicaid fraud charges alone carry a possible maxim sentence of 5 years, while the illegal drug prescription charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. While it is not true in every case, many times dental malpractice cases are bolstered by criminal charges and criminal convictions which are the subject of the same allegations of malpractice. Once the conviction is achieved, evidence of this can, in many cases, be admissible in the civil trial of the dental malpractice case. The general rule is:
Any witness, other than a criminal defendant, may be impeached with competent evidence that he has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
- However, the impeaching party must offer a certified copy of the record of conviction in order to impeach a witness. Business Records, Inc. v. General Amusements, Inc., 366 S.E. 2d (Ga. App. 1988).
- Even with a certified record of conviction, evidence is limited to crime, time and place of conviction and sentence imposed. McCormick on Evidence Section 42 (West, 4th Ed. 1992).
Robert J. Fleming is an Atlanta dental malpractice lawyer helping persons injured by the negligence of dentists, dental technicians and other dental professionals recover compensation for their injuries. Attorney Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.