If you’re afraid of the dentist, brace yourself. This story from Anchorage, Alaska, will probably make your teeth chatter.
Dentist Seth Lookhart, of Clear Creek Dental, stands accused of 17 counts of fraud and “unlawful dental acts.”
What exactly is an “unlawful dental act”?
According to court documents, Lookhart repeatedly used IV sedation to knock patients out, not because they needed it, but because Medicaid covered the procedure while private insurance companies did not.
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Prosecutors say Lookhart did this so often that he ended up billing nearly $2 million for IV sedative procedures, often doing it just to clean patients’ teeth, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Eight of the charges against Lookhart are for medical fraud or theft of more than $25,000, and he alone accounted for more than 30 percent of Medicaid’s billings for the procedure in the state in 2016, per Alaska Public Media.
But perhaps most alarming is what Lookhart allegedly did once his patients were unconscious. According to KTUU, prosecutors are accusing him of riding a hoverboard and recording a patient as he pulled out her tooth. He later sent the footage of the procedure to his friends, joking that it represented a “new standard of care.” The patient said she did not know about Lookhart’s actions while she was asleep.
Lookhart also allowed an office manager, Shauna Cranford, to extract two teeth from a sedated patient and record the procedure, despite the fact that she does not have a medical license, court documents show. Prosecutors also say Cranford was the one who first persuaded Lookhart to over-prescribe the IV sedation procedure, and she has been charged with 10 felonies and six misdemeanors.
At a court hearing Wednesday, a judge deemed Lookhart a flight risk and ordered that his passport be confiscated, according to media reports. However, Lookhart did post a $250,000 bail to get out of prison. According to court records, Cranford has not yet posted bail.
In convicted, Lookhart could face up to 10 years in jail, as well as a fine of $100,000 and an order to repay Medicaid and defendants, which could cost $2.5 million.