A New York judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed against a pediatric dental chain accused of mistreating children who received treatment through Medicaid.
Allegations against the dental chain Small Smiles include horrific accusations of malpractice and negligence, including performing painful procedures like extractions and fillings without anesthesia while using immobilizing devices and radios to drown out patients’ crying. The company is also accused of performing unnecessary dental procedures for the purpose of getting more money from Medicaid. According to the attorney for the 33 New York parents of children treated at Small Smiles, the offices even had washing machines used to clean the clothes of children who soiled themselves.
State Court Judge Deborah Karalunas’ decision to allow the case to go to trial was based on victim Jeremy Bohn who began treatment at Small Smiles when he was he was three. Bohn was subjected to many dental procedures, including fillings and extractions, often with no anesthesia and the use of an immobilizer to keep him from resisting. Bohn’s mother and nine other parents sued the business. Other plaintiffs filed the same year and the cases were consolidated.
Small Smiles is a national chain with more than 50 clinics in the US. They primarily treat children on Medicaid. The chain faces litigation in Colorado, Oklahoma and South Carolina. A joint report from two US Senate Committees calls for the business’s removal from the federal Medicaid program.
Three of the implicated dentists said that they used their best medical judgment but Karalunas sided with an expert for the plaintiffs who maintained the dentists violated standard of care procedures, such as performing extractions and fillings with no justification.
Karalunas wrote that the dentists’ “alleged conduct goes well beyond breaches of professional duty to encompass a far-reaching scheme to intentionally disregard the well-being of children, forcing them to undergo unnecessary and painful dental treatment in order to maximize profits in the form of Medicaid payments.”
The New York trial is scheduled to begin mid-September.