September 14, 2013 — Dr. Thomas P. Floyd of West Palm Beach has been arrested and his dental license suspended because he allegedly hit a four-year-old patient in the mouth during a dental procedure. The police were summoned directly to the dentist’s office in May 2010, where they were told that a child had been crying and screaming in one of the dentist’s exam rooms. According to the local CBS affiliate, the four-year-old boy told police that the dentist “went pow pow on my face” and hurt him.
Confronted with evidence that the boy’s lip was injured, Dr. Floyd claimed that the child had bitten his mouth during the procedure. The boy was seen in the pediatric unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center the same day, and hospital records report that he had multiple cuts on his lips, a tear under his tongue and a laceration on his gums. His swollen lips had dried blood on them.
Florida Dentist Allegedly Engaged in Widespread Physical Abuse of His Patients
While none of the employees told police they had seen the incident that day, several informed police that there was an ongoing issue with Dr. Floyd treating patients in a physically abusive way. Later, a former employee of Dr. Floyd’s practice was interviewed by police and said that he was present that day in the exam room and that it was the “worst” incident he had seen in Dr. Floyd’s office. After describing what he had seen, he said that he had left the exam room to ask a teenage patient to call 911.
Approximately 25 other complaints have been filed against Dr. Floyd since 2006. Some of the disturbing allegations against Dr. Floyd include:
- A seven-year-old girl was allegedly gagged with a bib when she told Dr. Floyd that she was hurting during a multiple extraction procedure. Staff reported that it was common for Dr. Floyd to gag children to silence them.
- Dr. Floyd failed to check the charts of two young girls who were in the office at the same time, resulting in Dr. Floyd pulling four teeth and filling others on a girl who was only scheduled for a cleaning.
- A 16-year-old boy scheduled for fillings chose not to use anesthesia with the agreement that Dr. Floyd would stop drilling anytime the teenager raised his hand to indicate pain. The second time the teenager raised his hand, Dr. Floyd did not stop drilling. Instead, he grabbed the boy by his hair and shook his head. The teenager was able to escape and leave the office.
- Only after an unsuccessful attempt to pull a teenage girl’s wisdom teeth, did Dr. Floyd decide he needed to take an x-ray.
- Dr. Floyd performed extensive work on a four-year-old boy. Two weeks later the boy complained of pain and inability to open his mouth. After Dr. Floyd refused to see him on an emergency basis, the boy had to be hospitalized for a massive infectition.
In addition to the accusations of abuse, the state has alleged that Dr. Floyd used unclean practices, such as failing to change out dirty instruments or gloves between patients.
He also allegedly allowed his employees to replace germ protective barriers on equipment only once a day.
Interestingly, at the time of the alleged assault, Dr. Floyd was capping several teeth on a four-year-old patient. While the allegations against Dr. Floyd do not at this point include charges of Medicaid fraud, and the boy might very well have needed the extensive dental work that Dr. Floyd was performing on him, it is not uncommon for dentists and orthodontists engaged in Medicaid fraud to perform extensive, unnecessary dental work on very young patients.
Whistleblowers Can Help Authorities Fight Dental Fraud and Other Wrongdoing
In this case, an employee prompted a 911 call to address what he believed was an abusive situation in his workplace. That’s exactly what a whistleblower does: bring attention to something that’s wrong.
In the dental field, more often whistleblowers are addressing issues of Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Dental Medicaid fraud often occurs when a dentist or orthodontist bills Medicaid for procedures that are not actually done or does procedures that are medically unnecessary in order to bill Medicaid for them. In some cases, there have been reports of children being restrained or treated without anesthesia in order to speed up treatment and reduce costs. Medicaid fraud is, sadly, big business. When someone, like a former employee, reports Medicaid or Medicare fraud, he or she is offering valuable assistance to state and federal authorities whose job it is to fight such fraud.
Because the information whistleblowers provide can be so helpful, the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow whistleblowers to sue those engaged in fraud against the government and to receive a portion of any money recovered.
It is important to know your rights under the False Claims Act. Waters & Kraus has a team of experienced and highly skilled attorneys who are available to help you through the process. Contact us or call our whistleblower attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our practice and how we can assist.