Tag Archives: oversight

Calif. dental board allows complaints to accumulate outside public view

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by courtney0609 via Flickr.

Photo by courtney0609 via Flickr.

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

Questions arise about oversight of pediatric dentists, sedation

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Alia Wong

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.

Calif. SSI payouts insufficient, lacking in oversight

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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.