Recently, the Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) filed a complaint against Lone Peak Management (DSO) acting as Smiles 4 Kids. The complaint was sent to the Washington State Department of Health. It included fairly alarming allegations against the DSO – one who manages multiple locations throughout Washington and almost 50 practices across a total of 12 states.
Lone Peak’s chain, Smiles 4 Kids is a pediatric chain of clinics focusing mainly on low-income, Medicare-eligible children.
The information was first brought to the WSDA by a former Lone Peak employee. She claimed that the DSO was interfering with dentist-patient relationships by ordering staff to reuse single-use mouthpieces in order to cut costs. So, both going against manufacturer suggested uses and putting their patients at risk of infection. The employee, Lisa Walker, was a co-manager of a Tacoma clinic for 5 years before she resigned. She was so upset with what she witnessed that she even provided internal emails for the WSDA.
This wasn’t the only complaint brought to the Washington State Board of Health. The WSDA also claims that the DSO set up a kickback scheme involving general anesthesia. This plan was responsible for over $150 to Lone Peak each time a patient (child) was given the anesthesia. Once again, profit in place of patient care.
If that wasn’t enough, one string of emails even describes a biased referral program wherein doctors and staff were ordered not to refer patients to other clinics. Or to only send patients to affiliated clinics. Here’s an excerpt:
“Patients in your office should NOT be given options to where they would like to go for their wisdom teeth extractions” …. “Referring patients anywhere else is [sending] OUR business and money away and is therefore unacceptable.”
Once again, this is interfering with clinical care and putting profit first.
To put it out there, the Private Dentist Association doesn’t advocate one side of the DSO argument or the other. What we do advocate against, strongly, is putting the patient last and stepping in the way of a Dentist and his or her clinical plan. The above allegations, if proven true are what we are fighting against. So, please keep up the work, keep spreading the news and keep being excellent examples for your peers.
For 2 more in-depth coverage on the Washington State Dental Associations filing, we recommend you read the following articles:
Dentistry Today’s WSDA Files Complaint Against Lone Peak Management by Michael W. Davis, DDS
The ADA’s Whistleblower Allegations Prompt Washington State Dental Association to File Complaint Against Chain by David Burger