On today's dentistry and health headlines:
Dentist indicted on prescription, fraud charges
An Oakton dentist has been indicted on charges of illegally distributing prescription pills to patients, professionals and paramours over the past five years and also assuming another dentist’s identity to bill more than $160,000 in claims for work he performed on his family.
A grand jury recently indicted Hamada Makarita, 50, on charges of conspiracy, health care fraud, aggravated identity theft and 12 counts of dispensing controlled substances.
The federal government smoked him out through an investigation known as Operation Cotton Candy, according to the office of Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Dr. Makarita faces 10 years in prison on the health care fraud charge, 20 years for conspiracy and each of the controlled-substances charges, and a consecutive two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Dr. Makarita distributed drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and Valium to patients and girlfriends and for “prurient” purposes, “including, but not limited to, consensual and non-consensual sex,” according to the 20-page indictment.
At least once, Dr. Makarita took pictures of a patient he was dating without her consent to the photo while she was under the influence of drugs he had illegally given to her. Dr. Makarita then emailed the photos to friends and employees, prosecutors said.
Dr. Makarita also is said to have provided more than $160,000 in services to his family members and illegally billed them to Aetna using the name of another dentist. He was reimbursed more than $91,000 for the fraudulent claims.
'I look like a monster': Mother left toothless after £4,000 of botched dental work by struck-off Polish dentist
A mother says she feels like a monster after a bungled £4,000 dental procedure left her totally toothless.
Gabriela Andrews, 48, now has just a few jagged bones for teeth and faces a bill for more than £15,000 to repair her smile.
But she has been left powerless to get compensation for the botched treatment because the private dentist who gave her dental implants in Cornwall in January 2010 has since moved to Poland and been struck off.
She said: ‘I have been left looking like a monster. I’m embarrassed when I talk.
‘I feel like people are staring at me. My confidence has been affected, my speech has been affected, I can’t eat solid food and nobody does you justice.
‘To be left like this, you can’t believe it can happen in this country. There’s nothing I can do. I have a mortgage to pay and bills. I cannot afford to fix this. I don’t want other people to fall in to this situation.’
The work had been undertaken by self-employed dentist Piotr Tadeusz Reichel.
Dr Reichel’s licence to practise has been suspended by the General Dental Council ‘for protection of the public and in the public interest’ - in relation to care of several patients.
Gabriela, from Keysham, Devon, said: ‘I went back to the clinic but they said the dentist is self-employed and it’s his responsibility, his insurance will pay.
Children suffer under dental managed care that saves California money
When state lawmakers learned that Sacramento County's dental program for poor children has one of the worst records in the state, they immediately scheduled hearings and demanded reform.
But a larger Medi-Cal managed care program has a poorer record and hasn't received the same kind of legislative scrutiny.
Four hundred miles south, in Los Angeles County, just 23 percent of the children enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care saw a dentist last year. That's compared with about 31 percent in Sacramento and about half of all Medi-Cal children statewide.
Sacramento and Los Angeles are the only two counties in California that offer Medi-Cal dental managed care, but cost-cutting proposals at the Capitol would bring it to other counties, a prospect that alarms some experts.
"The state has a program that's not working and it seems like they want to grow it," said Scott Jacks, a pediatric dentist and founder of Children's Dental Group, which operates four offices in Los Angeles County that see thousands of patients annually.
Jacks participated fully in the Medi-Cal managed care dental program for a decade, until 2005. Dental plans paid him a monthly fee of between $4 and $6 for each Medi-Cal managed care child assigned to him, a reimbursement that didn't cover costs and forced him to stop taking new Medi-Cal managed care members, he said.
"It's just not sustainable," he said. Expanding the program, he said, "would be disastrous."
DENTISTS mislead some patients over their NHS entitlements to make them pay for private care, a watchdog says.
Half a million people may have paid needlessly.
The Office of Fair Trading report said those patients were not given enough information to make an informed choice of dentist and treatment.
OFT chief exec John Fingleton said: “We unearthed evidence some people may be receiving deliberately inaccurate information about entitlement to NHS dental treatment and we expect to see robust action taken against misconduct.”
The report called for major changes to the dentistry market.
The reforms it wants include removing restrictions that stop patients seeing dental hygienists and clinical technicians without a dentists’ referral. It also said the market should be opened up to more practices and allow others to expand. Health minister Lord Howe said: “The vast majority of dentists behave ethically.”
Enjoy your morning!