Before we begin, a brief reminder: Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, schedule a free consultation.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

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An Alaska dentist, Dr. Seth Lookhart, was sentenced to 12 years of prison for 46 charges including Medicaid fraud, embezzlement, reckless endangerment and unlawful dental acts. More on that in a minute. His prior claim to fame was extracting a tooth while on a Hoverboard.

“[In 2016] he pulled a tooth from a sedated patient while wobbling on a wheeled ‘hoverboard’ scooter. The evidence for this transgression again came from Lookhart himself, who had the hoverboard procedure captured on video. Lookhart then shared the video with several people.”

“Footage…shows Lookhart standing over a sedated patient, swaying slightly on his hoverboard while extracting a tooth. Once done, he rolls out of the room, strips off his gloves, tosses them, and triumphantly throws both hands in the air as he zooms away down a hallway.”

The patient who had her tooth pulled by Dr. Seth Lookhart while he was riding a hoverboard testified in court …as the last witness called by the prosecution.

Veronica Wilhelm was sedated when Lookhart performed the procedure in July of 2016. Wilhelm testified that she had been sedated previously when undergoing oral surgery because she is allergic to medicines used for local anesthetics.

“When did Dr. Lookhart get your approval to take out your tooth on a hoverboard?” prosecutor Joan Wilson asked.

“He never did. I obviously wouldn’t have approved that. That’s dangerous,” Wilhelm answered.

“If you were awake and not sedated when Dr. Lookhart came into the operatory on a hoverboard, what would you have said to him?” Wilson continued.

“I would’ve said ‘hell no!’ No, that’s unprofessional. It’s crazy,” Wilhelm replied.

Wilhelm testified that she did not give consent to being filmed while sedated and that she didn’t know a video was taken until an investigator contacted her. Phone records show that Lookhart texted the video to at least eight people, in some messages calling it “a new standard of care.”

On cross-examination, Lookhart’s attorney apologized to the patient.”

Of course, extracting a tooth on a Hoverboard is not illegal. It is a very bad idea. But there were other charges. He supposedly fraudulently billed Medicaid $1.8M and stole approximately $250k from his partners.

“Medicaid patients would routinely be sedated for longer than necessary so the clinic could bill for more money. Investigators found numerous text messages from Lookhart describing the scheme.”

What precisely was fraudulent?

Costs for sedation services were not included in the $1,150 annual cap for adults in Alaska’s dental Medicaid coverage. 

“If a patient was out of their Medicaid benefits, so they didn’t have anything available, we would waive that fee and they could do it with sedation, so there was still money coming in,” said former staff member Rachel Miner.

Thus, the billings generated from IV sedation services more than offset remuneration of other dental services, which were greatly reduced or eliminated. Another employee testified that a patient might be under IV sedation for up to three hours for a typical one-hour clinical procedure. 

The government produced text messages between Cranford and Lookhart, with one stating, “So let’s build a practice around it, sedation, and let’s Medicaid it up.”

Lookhart’s practice alone was responsible for 31% of Alaska’s total dental Medicaid IV sedation billings in 2016.

How did authorities learn of the alleged bad behavior?

“[The court noted] that in some of the text conversations, Dr. Lookhart’s friends would inquire about how he could get away with some of his practices. Dr. Lookhart responded, in effect, that unless someone was standing right next to him at the time, no one would ever know.

The overwhelming amount of evidence was often supported, and often in excruciating detail, by Dr. Lookhart’s own texts, photos and videos.”

“Lookhart also schemed to cut out his partners by billing Medicaid under a different provider identification and having payments sent directly to his home, prosecutors said.

Word of Lookhart’s Medicaid fraud reached investigators in 2016 when a former employee told the state that he was profiting by performing more IV sedation than needed. 

Former employees alleged that Lookhart specifically pushed for the sedation procedure on Medicaid patients, while those with private insurance were given local anesthesia.”

Lookhart’s license to practice dentistry was suspended in 2017. Apparently, he will not be allowed to practice dentistry during the 10-year probation following release from prison. By then, his dentistry skills will be rusty. His hoverboard skills? Hard to say.

There’s even more to this case. For example, civil suits alleging Lookhart pulled out the wrong tooth. But I hate to pile on.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Medical Justice provides free consultations to doctors facing medico-legal obstacles. We have solutions for doctor-patient conflicts, unwarranted demands for refunds, online defamation (patient review mischief), meritless litigation, and a gazillion other issues. We also provide counsel specific to COVID-19. If you are navigating a medico-legal obstacle, visit our booking page to schedule a free consultation – or use the tool shared below.

"Can Medical Justice solve my problem?" Click here to review recent consultations...

We’ve been protecting doctors from medico-legal threats since 2001. We’ve seen it all. Here’s a sample of typical recent consultation discussions…

  • Former employee stole patient list. Now a competitor…
  • Patient suing doctor in small claims court…
  • Just received board complaint…
  • Allegations of sexual harassment by employee…
  • Patient filed police complaint doctor inappropriately touched her…
  • DEA showed up to my office…
  • Patient “extorting” me. “Pay me or I’ll slam you online.”
  • My carrier wants me to settle. My case is fully defensible…
  • My patient is demanding an unwarranted refund…
  • How do I safely terminate doctor-patient relationship?
  • How to avoid reporting to Data Bank…
  • I want my day in court. But don’t want to risk my nest egg…
  • Hospital wants to fire me…
  • Sham peer review inappropriately limiting privileges…
  • Can I safely use stem cells in my practice?
  • Patient’s results are not what was expected…
  • Just received request for medical records from an attorney…
  • Just received notice of intent to sue…
  • Just received summons for meritless case…
  • Safely responding to negative online reviews…

Schedule your consultation below – or click here to visit our booking page.

 

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Medical Justice Founder and CEO, Jeff Segal, MD, JD, provides consultations to doctors in need of guidance. 

Meet the Experts Driving Medical Justice

Our Executive Team walks with our member doctors until their medico-legal obstacles are resolved - we've seen it all.

Jeffrey Segal, MD, JD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Medical Justice, is a board-certified neurosurgeon. Dr. Segal is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; the American College of Legal Medicine; and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. In the process of conceiving, funding, developing, and growing Medical Justice, Dr. Segal has established himself as one of the country’s leading authorities on medical malpractice issues, counterclaims, and internet-based assaults on reputation.

Dr. Segal was a practicing neurosurgeon for approximately ten years, during which time he also played an active role as a participant on various state-sanctioned medical review panels designed to decrease the incidence of meritless medical malpractice cases.

Dr. Segal holds a M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, where he also completed a neurosurgical residency. Dr. Segal served as a Spinal Surgery Fellow at The University of South Florida Medical School. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the AOA Medical Honor Society. Dr. Segal received his B.A. from the University of Texas and graduated with a J.D. from Concord Law School with highest honors.

In 2000, he co-founded and served as CEO of DarPharma, Inc, a biotechnology company in Chapel Hill, NC, focused on the discovery and development of first-of-class pharmaceuticals for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Segal is also a partner at Byrd Adatto, a national business and health care law firm. With over 50 combined years of experience in serving doctors, dentists, and other providers, Byrd Adatto has a national pedigree to address most legal issues that arise in the business and practice of medicine.