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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

More Dental Malpractice Claims Settled

In a string of cases that began to surface in 2011, several former dentists with Smile Center had been accused of performing unnecessary or excessive treatments on minors. The procedures were performed on more than 250 patients and then billed to Medicaid. Medical malpractice claims were subsequently brought on behalf of the patients. Smile Center and its owner reached confidential settlements with 253 patients two years ago. Now, another four dentists formerly with the outfit have also reached confidential settlements.

This story initially came to light in a series of television news stories four years ago. The reportage revealed the chain of 6 dental offices had performed numerous dental procedures that allegedly left the children in pain. Since then, lawsuits were brought on behalf of more than 250 children.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor or other medical professional's incompetence or failure to completely perform his or her medical duties. The rules governing these cases vary state to state. Generally, there are four keys to bringing a medical malpractice claim: a plaintiff must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor was negligent, the doctor's negligence caused the injury, and the injury led to specific damages. Moreover, a plaintiff can base their claim on the following types of damage: physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, and lost work and lost earning capacity.

Negligence, Fraud and Conspiracy

In some of the cases brought against the Smile Center, the complaints included allegations of fraud and conspiracy as well as gross negligence. The dentists engaged in a scheme to misdiagnose and over treat children who were covered by Medicaid. One of the dentists involved in this matter was also found to have taken undue advantage of the children and their parents by falsely diagnosing the existence of cavities and the need for a variety of unnecessary procedures. Moreover, he was also reprimanded by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners

While the malpractice suits, which were covered by malpractice insurance, have been settled, this may not be the end of the legal woes for the Smile Center. In the wake of the lawsuits, the Texas attorney general's office opened an investigation that remains "ongoing" and very active. In 2013, the law enforcement agency created the Orthodontic and Dental Fraud task for in order to investigate potential overbilling by Medicaid providers. The lawsuits, combined with the fact that The Smile Center disclosed that it received $28.5 million in Medicaid payments from 2008 to 2010, prompted the investigation.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are very complicated and it is essential to consult with a qualified attorney if you believe you have been injured by a doctor or other medical professional.

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