Medicaid billing schemes are not new; in fact, many have been convicted of committing this crime over the years. However, a recent personal injury lawsuit has caught the attention of a lot of people since a toddler was involved — and even died in the process.
The wrongful death lawsuit claims that unnecessary dental procedures were performed on fourteen-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres as part of a corporate scheme that aims to make money from Medicaid. The toddler’s family is suing dentist Dr. Michael Melanson and mobile anesthesiologist Dr. David Williams, along with Austin Children’s Dentistry and Texan Anesthesiology Association.
Daisy Lynn died on March 29, 2016, while she was going through a dental procedure at Austin Children’s Dentistry. The procedure was performed by Dr. Melanson while anesthesia was provided by Dr. Williams, who works for Texan Anesthesiology Association and was present while the child received the dental treatment.
Daisy Lynn’s mother, Betty Squier, had brought the toddler to Austin Children’s Dentistry to have two of her cavities filled. Squier noted that she was present when her daughter was put under anesthesia but was asked to leave the room afterwards. According to her, Dr. Melanson came out of the room after several minutes and told her they were going to place six crowns on Daisy Lynn’s teeth — four more than what had been originally planned. A short while after that, Squier was informed that her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest.
Forensic dental examiner Dr. Robert Williams worked on the case and reported that “no indication of dental disease or pathology was seen” in Daisy Lynn’s dental X-rays on the day she died. He points out that the child may possibly have had “congenital enamel defects” in her partially erupted teeth, but stated that they did not necessarily require treatments especially considering her age. Dr. Williams noted that there was no evidence that Daisy Lynn was in “any type of pain” due to any dental diseases.
This report was included in the autopsy report filed by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, which was released in July 2016 and ruled that anesthesia was the cause of death of the child. A few months later, in September 2016, Austin Children’s Dentistry filed a libel, defamation, and business disparagement lawsuit against Dr. Robert Williams. The company sponsored national dental experts to independently review the case, and the reviews concluded that the treatments that Daisy Lynn Torres received before her death were “dentally necessary”.
Despite this, the toddler’s parents believe that their daughter wrongfully died and that her death was caused by a scheme that aims to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures. Betty Squier states that her child’s life “was cut short due to someone’s greed and negligence”, while Daisy Lynn’s father Elizandro Torres wants the case to be heard so it won’t happen to other people. He reminds parents that “they can ask questions” and “get second opinions, third opinions”.
The family’s attorney Sean Breen points out that Daisy Lynn’s case will hopefully highlight the fact that dentists and dental clinics all over the country are committing Medicaid fraud by doing unnecessary procedures and collecting money from them. Breen states that other parents have come out and revealed that their children also received unnecessary dental treatments from Austin Children’s Dentistry.