Did this local pediatric dentist harm these children and is his actions subject to legal actions?

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Dentist

I practiced medical malpractice (which included dental malpractice) and never encountered such harsh treatment that local parents are accusing a local pediatric dentist of doing to their children.  Recently, Dr. Howard Schneider, who has been practicing in Jacksonville for 49 years and accepts child patients on Medicaid, is being accused of hurting children.

According to Brandi Motley, who posted to her facebook page, said her daughter received multiple injuries to her face and neck during an appointment in December. Motley said she wasn’t allowed in the room with her daughter while a procedure to pull one of her teeth was ongoing. “They told me they think that it makes the kids act out worse. That she’d be calmer if the parent wasn’t back there, and at first it made sense,” Motley told Action News.  Motley said her daughter, 6-year-old Briel, who suffers from epilepsy, was in that room three hours before Motley was called back to the room. “The nurse lady comes and gets me and she said there had been an incident. I walk back through the doors and turn to the right and there she is, sitting with blood all over her. Her face was all swollen and the lady said they had her on the papoose board and they stepped out for a second to get something, and they came back in and she was face-first on the floor.” Motley said seven of her daughter’s teeth had been pulled. She showed Action News paperwork from the emergency room, confirming Motley called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families to report the injuries that day. “The knot on her head, the swelling on her eye, the bumps on her face, her nose was swollen and all her teeth missing,” she said.

Unfortunately, little Briel Motely is not the only who was allegedly injured by this dentist.  There is 2 year old Mason Phillips, whose mother said he was also a victim.  She told Action News that Mason’s story is very similar to Briel’s story.  Phillips contacted Motley after seeing the social media post Tuesday. She showed Action News photos after the visit when she said four of her son’s teeth were removed instead of two.  Phillips said she contacted DCF and that the investigation is still open. The two mothers are now taking action together.  They want his doors closed and no more children to be hurt.

Action News first attempted to speak with Schneider outside his office Tuesday afternoon, but his staff intervened and refused to let him answer our questions about the allegations against him.

Dr. Schneider told Action News off camera that he was caught off guard by the allegations, and that he didn’t remember what happened to Motley’s or Phillips’ children specifically.  Under advice of his attorney, he would make only one statement on the record. “I had rather talk to my attorney first, and I’ll be glad upon his approval to give you anything you want. And I’d like to leave it like that until I talk to him. Alright?” Schneider said.

The news agency reached out to DCF, and a spokesperson said they cannot by law confirm if Schneider is or has been under investigation.  They also reached out to the Florida Department of Health and received the following statement from a spokesperson:

“At this time Dr. Howard Schneider has a clear and active license as posted on our Medical Quality Assurance site. Further, there are specific statutory provisions in Section 456.073(2), Florida Statutes, that set out the procedures and time frame when a regulatory complaint becomes a public (vs. confidential) record. The statute provides that a complaint and investigative file remains confidential until 10 days after the probable cause panel of the individual’s regulatory board votes to find probable cause. If the panel votes not to find probable cause, then the file remains confidential and is never public.

When a complaint against a health care practitioner licensed by the department becomes public it will be posted on the department’s license verification website: https://appsmqa.doh.state.fl.us/irm00Praes/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom.

According to this website, Howard S. Schneider (DN3412) has a Clear/Active license with no public complaints or discipline on file.”

Action News did some research and found a paper that Schneider wrote back in April 2008 to the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry.  He wrote, “There is change in the 2008 parents in the philosophy of raising their children; There is change in the child who has a mind of his / her own; change in the laws in treatment of the child / changes in public attitude and their concerns and trust in the professions. All the child has to do is tell the parent “they hurt me.” Then you spend the next hour explaining why you helped him. The child of today is smart, manipulative, and, spoiled. They know how to work the system. Oh yes!”

According to Florida Statutes, a dentist can be sued for dental malpractice.  Under Chapter 766, a dentist can be liable for medical malpractice.  As set forth in 766.202, Florida Statues, a dentist is considered a “health care provider”:  Health care provider” means any hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or mobile surgical facility as defined and licensed under chapter 395; a birth center licensed under chapter 383; any person licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, chapter 460, chapter 461, chapter 462, chapter 463, part I of chapter 464, chapter 466 (Dentists), chapter 467, part XIV of chapter 468, or chapter 486; a clinical lab licensed under chapter 483; a health maintenance organization certificated under part I of chapter 641; a blood bank; a plasma center; an industrial clinic; a renal dialysis facility; or a professional association partnership, corporation, joint venture, or other association for professional activity by health care providers.

Also, a dentist can be penalized and be subjected by disciplinary action by the Florida Board of Dentistry.  Florida law provides the following in Florida Statutes 466.028:  The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2)….(x) Being guilty of incompetence or negligence by failing to meet the minimum standards of performance in diagnosis and treatment when measured against generally prevailing peer performance, including, but not limited to, the undertaking of diagnosis and treatment for which the dentist is not qualified by training or experience or being guilty of dental malpractice. For purposes of this paragraph, it shall be legally presumed that a dentist is not guilty of incompetence or negligence by declining to treat an individual if, in the dentist’s professional judgment, the dentist or a member of her or his clinical staff is not qualified by training and experience, or the dentist’s treatment facility is not clinically satisfactory or properly equipped to treat the unique characteristics and health status of the dental patient, provided the dentist refers the patient to a qualified dentist or facility for appropriate treatment. As used in this paragraph, “dental malpractice” includes, but is not limited to, three or more claims within the previous 5-year period which resulted in indemnity being paid, or any single indemnity paid in excess of $25,000 in a judgment or settlement, as a result of negligent conduct on the part of the dentist…..(y) Practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law or accepting and performing professional responsibilities which the licensee knows or has reason to know that she or he is not competent to perform.

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