Friday, May 24, 2024

Marty McFly DDS: Extracted Tooth While Riding A Hoverboard

The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the revocation of a dental license as ordered by the Superior Court

The Board of Dental Examiners revoked Seth Lookhart’s dental license after he was convicted of dozens of crimes perpetrated in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme of staggering proportions that jeopardized the health and safety of his patients. Lookhart appealed the Board’s revocation of his license, arguing that his punishment was inconsistent with past Board decisions. On appeal, the superior court concluded that the Board properly exercised its discretion by revoking Lookhart’s dental license.

We conclude that the Board did not abuse its discretion by revoking Lookhart’s license. None of the Board’s prior licensing cases involved misconduct of the scope and severity in this case, so there was no applicable precedent to limit the Board’s exercise of its discretion. We affirm the decision of the superior court.

The misconduct

The facts in this appeal are undisputed. Lookhart was issued an Alaska dental license in June 2014 and a parenteral sedation permit in May 2015. Between May 2016 and March 2017, Lookhart systematically and unnecessarily sedated his patients in a manner that allowed him to fraudulently bill the maximum amount covered by Alaska’s Medicaid program, overcharging Medicaid by more than $1.6 million. Lookhart routinely billed Medicaid for sedation that was not performed, billed Medicaid at higher rates than other insurers, and created false dates of service to maximize his wrongful reimbursements. During this same period Lookhart also stole an additional $412,500 from a business partner.

In order to maximize his billings to Medicaid, Lookhart engaged in a series of standard-of-care violations: He sedated patients beyond the scope of his training and permit, sedated multiple patients simultaneously, billed Medicaid for sedation during routine cleanings, and sedated patients with underlying chronic diseases that made sedation dangerous. He allowed his unlicensed office manager to sedate patients, pressured patients into unwanted sedation, and left sedated patients to drive themselves home.

On two occasions, Lookhart’s patients nearly lost their lives as a direct consequence of his reckless sedation practices: One displayed vital signs “inconsistent with signs of life,” while another’s heart rate dropped to 19 beats per minute with what Lookhart described as a “crazy high” blood pressure. Lookhart also extracted one deeply sedated patient’s tooth while riding a hoverboard, and then sent a video of the unsafe extraction to his friends and family members without the patient’s consent.

Lookhart was fully aware that his conduct was reckless and illegal, but declared that the Dental Board “would literally have to be there watching me do it” to catch him.

Lookhart was arrested in April 2017. After a six-week bench trial ending in January 2020, he was convicted on 46 charges, including 11 felony counts of medical assistance fraud, three felony counts of scheming to defraud, one count of felony theft, three class A misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, one class B misdemeanor count of failure to meet minimal standards of dentistry, and 27 additional  misdemeanors. The trial court also issued an order finding that the State had proven 13 sentencing aggravators beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court found that the evidence against Lookhart was “overwhelming.” He was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison with eight years suspended.

Sanction

Lookhart stole millions of dollars from Medicaid. In furtherance of this massive fraud, he repeatedly subjected his patients to great risk of harm. There are no cases in the Board’s history comparable to Lookhart’s. In light of the lack of any cases presenting similar facts or circumstances, the Board’s conclusion that revocation was the “clear and obvious sanction” given the “sheer magnitude of admitted misconduct” was not an abuse of discretion.

From Alaska News Source

A 25-second video shows Dr. Seth Lookhart floating into an exam room. He appears to remove a tooth from a sedated patient, then pivots and rides away on a hoverboard, tossing his gloves in the air, removing his mask and flashing a smile at the camera.

The video, which appears to have been shot on a cell phone, was just a shred of the evidence presented in the 35-year-old dentist’s weeks-long trial.

CBS 17 has the hoverboard video.

The case is SETH LOOKHART, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, DIVISION OF CORPORATIONS, BUSINESS, & PROFESSIONAL LICENSING, BOARD OF DENTAL EXAMINERS, Appellee  (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2024/05/the-alaska-supreme-court-affirmed-the-revocation-of-a-dental-license-the-board-of-dental-examiners-revoked-seth-lookharts.html

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