Over five months, Arthur Kane, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, immersed himself in the workings of the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners.
Kane combed through state audits and internal documents and delved into the stories of patients who were left suffering by dentists who were allowed to keep practicing. He weighed troubling allegations raised by a local dental society. In October, he emerged with a six-part series, “Painful Mistakes.” Continue reading
Over recent years, the Nevada Board of Dental Examiners has weathered plenty of criticism. Two governors have singled out the professional licensing board for scrutiny. State audits, including one released in June, have raised troubling questions about accountability and ethical lapses by the dental board, which is funded by professional licensing fees and charged with practitioner oversight and the protection of patients across the state.
Along the way, an ongoing feud between the dental board and the Las Vegas Dental Association kept tensions simmering. Then, a five-month investigation by the Las Vegas Review-Journal helped bring the dental board’s troubles to a boiling point. Continue reading
Reporter Rachel Cook took a long and detailed look at the career of one Bakersfield, Calif., dentist and ended up with a series called “Dental Dangers,” recently published in The Bakersfield Californian.
The stories examine a history of complaints and lawsuits against Robert Tupac, who, as a board-certified prosthodontist, specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth. Over three decades, more than a dozen of Tupac’s patients claimed his shoddy work left them with troubles ranging from bone loss to drooling, Cook wrote, and some patients reported that it would take thousands of dollars worth of corrective work to undo the harm.
In her reporting – done as a 2013 California Health Journalism Fellow – Cook described a state dental board system that allowed the alleged problems with the dentist to pile up outside public view. “A potential patient searching for competent dental care would never know about many of Tupac’s alleged professional shortcomings — or those of any other California dentist — without undertaking extensive and often difficult research,” Cook wrote. Continue reading
The state of Hawaii continues to investigate the death of a 3-year-old girl who went into a coma after visiting a dentist’s office.
Last month, I wrote about the coverage by Susan Essoyan of the Honolulu Star Advertiser. I also put together a pediatric anesthesia tip sheet with links to some helpful resources.
In the meantime, reporter Alia Wong has also been following the tragic story of the death of Finley Boyle and weighed in with a long Jan. 21 piece for the Honolulu Civil Beat. Wong brings us up to date on the kinds of questions that are being raised in the wake of the child’s death. She writes that questions are being raised about whether dentist Lilly Geyer, who was treating Finley, should have been advertising herself as a “children’s dentist.”
And she explains that “pediatric dentists do a rigorous and competitive two-year residency program in which they get training in specific skills such as child sedation while general dentists aren’t required to do a residency program.”
In a Q&A for AHCJ, she reveals what other questions have come up and what she learned about sedating children for dental procedures. See what story ideas her experience might spark for you.
Capital Public Radio’s Kelley Weiss explored how cuts to California’s Supplemental Security Income were impacting older disabled Californians and, in a second story, the lack of oversight in the massive state program. According to Weiss, the state doesn’t track how the money is spent by recipients or whether the $845 a month is enough to live on. Weiss even found recipients who admitted using the money to buy everything from beer to crack cocaine.
When Weiss questioned the director of California’s Department of Social Services, which oversees the state’s portion of SSI, about audits or reports that evaluated whether the program is working, he had a somewhat surprising answer:
“I don’t have any, I don’t have any background on this…yeah, we’ll have to set up a different time for that.”
Learn more about the national system here.