A 31-year-old dentist of Clear Creek Dental, who faces 17 counts of fraud and “unlawful dental acts”, has repeatedly used IV sedation procedures when it had been unnecessary.

Seth Lookhart is alleged to have billed a total of USD1.8 million for the IV sedation procedure in 2016, the amount being significantly more than any other provider in Alaska. The second highest bill for IV sedation, in comparison, was USD475,000.

Amid these allegations of fraudulent IV sedation billings, Lookhart who began his practice in 2014, is also said to have committed unprofessional dental misdemeanour offences, the most outrageous stunt being an extraction done while atop his scooter.

Patient completely sedated and unaware of dentist’s actions

State prosecutors found a video of the stunt act on the dentist’s phone. They said Lookhart filmed himself removing the tooth from the mouth of the sedated patient while atop the hoverboard as a joke.

The video was then sent to his office manager, Shauna Cranford and he had described the procedure as being a “new standard of care”.

The female patient who was sedated later told investigators she was unaware about the hoverboard or being filmed.

Cranford, 32, who does not have a medical licence, is also being charged with unlawful medical practices after allegedly pulling two teeth from a sedated patient and filming it without the patient's knowledge.

In her text messages to her mother in Washington state, Cranford wrote, "I pulled out two teeth on a guy yesterday. It was a real patient. Seth let me do it.”

“He was asleep. He didn't know I did it,” she texted, sending a short video clip of Lookhart draining fluid from the sedated patient’s upper gum area.

Unnecessary IV sedations to increase clinic’s earnings

The IV sedation, according to Assistant Attorney General Paul J. Miovas Jr., cost Medicaid USD170.76 for 15 minutes, and was not covered by most private insurers.

Further investigations showed that Cranford had earlier convinced Lookhart to increase the clinic's earnings by performing more frequent IV sedations on patients for dental procedures. Former employees revealed that both the dentist and his manager had pushed IV sedation for routine procedures such as deep cleanings as well.

The court said that "employees indicated that Lookhart was initially resistant to adding this service to his practice, but Cranford ultimately convinced him it was a good idea”.

In spelling out the charges, the document read, “When interviewed, Cranford confirmed that she introduced the idea of including IV sedation as a service at the clinic.”

Dentist charged with 100 felony offences

Classifying his balancing act and unprofessional behaviour as a class B misdemeanour, the Alaska State Department of Law, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit said Lookhart was officially charged with 100 felony offences – including medical assistance fraud, theft, scheme to defraud, unlawful dental acts, and practising dentistry without a licence.

Meanwhile, Cranford is accused of 16 charges including 10 felonies and six misdemeanours. If convicted, Lookhart and Cranford could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to USD100,000, and ordered to repay Medicaid and defendants up to USD2.5 million in restitution.

Prosecutors also identified Lookhart as a flight risk and requested for his arrest as he has “significant financial resources” as well as “significant family ties out of state”.

Confiscating his passport, they added that he also has “a passport and contacts in Brazil and has travelled to Brazil in the previous two years, is believed to speak Portuguese, [and] has business contacts in Dublin, Ireland”. Lookhart posted a USD250,000 bail and the hearing is set for 6 June. MIMS

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