HUDSON, Wis. — A former Hudson pediatric dentist was being investigated on accusations of unnecessarily pulling children’s teeth, billing fraud and overuse of laughing gas when he surrendered his license to practice last month.
Documents obtained through a public records request show Dr. Andy Mancini was being investigated in seven different cases by Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services.
The alleged violations included engaging in practices that constitute a substantial danger to patients, according to records.
Cases investigated by the state agency resulted in criminal charges and a civil suit brought by the state for falsified Medicaid claims.
An attorney for Mancini, who lives in Woodbury, Minn., previously said he would not comment on legal matters involving his client. Mancini denied all allegations in a Wisconsin Dentistry Examining Board document outlining the permanent surrender of his license in Wisconsin.
Dozens of allegations
A 2016 memo from the state alleged 37 separate complaints, including multiple reports of unnecessary tooth extractions, billing problems, children being held down, “aggressive procedures” and a threat to a child.
Among the allegations outlined:
- Patients were billed for treatments that weren’t performed.
- A child was held down while “kicking, pinching and clawing to get out of the seat during an extraction procedure,” during an unnecessary extraction procedure that a parent was not allowed to sit in on.
A dentist from the Department of Human Services Office of the Inspector General conducted an audit — generated by patient complaints — that revealed:
- Mancini used the sedative nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, at levels sometimes reaching a 70 percent concentration of nitrous oxide-to-oxygen, about double the recommended concentrations of 30-40 percent nitrous oxide for children.
- Patient files included “grossly mislabeled” X-ray files. The audit noted that Mancini would take the same six X-rays each time he’d see a patient. Medicaid, the report notes, reimburses for up to six X-rays on any date of service.
In a November 2016 interview with investigators, Mancini denied performing unnecessary work, but admitted to the possibility of billing errors “due to the incompetence of previous staff.”
Mancini told investigators he allowed parents in the room while he’s performing exams, but discourages family from being present during procedures “because it can be distracting” and can lead to anxiety for patients.
Kirsten Reader, assistant deputy secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services, said Mancini voluntarily surrendered his license April 10. She said that happened during the investigations — the outcomes of which could have led to revocation of his license.
The latest allegations didn’t surprise former La Petite client Rebecca Viebrock of Hudson
She said that after being initially impressed with La Petite’s kid-friendly atmosphere, she found herself having to return over and over.
“I practically lived at that place,” she said.
She grew skeptical, but she said her questions about X-rays and cavities were met with defensiveness from Mancini.
Viebrock said La Petite was one of the only dentists in the area that took state insurance. Without La Petite — where she also received dental care — Viebrock said she and her children are left without options in the area.
Stillwater resident Ashley Foley said she’s also in search of answers after learning about allegations of questionable care at La Petite. She said she took her children there for two years beginning in 2012 and never questioned the multiple tooth-pullings Mancini recommended.
Two of those involved her daughter’s front baby teeth, which have sat empty since the child was about 2. Foley said the girl is now 5 years old and must wait at least two more years before her adult teeth come in. Meanwhile, Foley said her daughter is in speech therapy and covers her mouth in shame when she smiles.
“What if this didn’t need to happen?” she said.
This content was originally published here.