What you have to say about the 'house of horrors' pediatric dental practice in Florida

Screaming children and multiple accusations of abuse against his pediatric patients have led Dr. Howard Schneider to voluntarily leave his dental practice in Jacksonville, Fla. Here's what DIQ readers have to say about this sad blight on the profession.

May 26th, 2015
Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 05 Angry Parent 1
A Memorial Day weekend news story revealed something no one wants to associate with dentistry—an alleged “house of horrors.” Dr. Howard Schneider of Jacksonville is accused of abusing children in his practice, both mentally and physically, and he agreed to stop practicing dentistry, according to this May 22 article.

Parents of more than 60 pediatric patients allege Dr. Schneider performed procedures without using anesthetic, removing more teeth than necessary or requested, and even going so far as to threaten children that their mothers would die if they tell them what happened in his dental office.

Dr. Schneider has “vehemently” denied the allegations, but upon coming under fire recently agreed last week to stop practicing dentistry. According to the article on Yahoo.com, “Schneider is the only pediatric dentist in Jacksonville who took Medicaid, so his practice attracted poorer clients, according to the lawsuit.”

The article went on to say, "What appeared from the outside to be an unremarkable pediatric dentistry practice, on the inside was a house of horrors ... where the most defenseless members of our society, indigent children ... are regularly assaulted,’ plaintiff's attorney Sarris wrote in the complaint.” Read the complete article on Yahoo.com.

This video from WPTV.com shows Dr. Schneider being attacked by angry parents.

This article also appeared on the Facebook page for RDH magazine, and the feedback was instantaneous and outraged. The dental professionals who commented are overwhelmingly relieved Dr. Schneider has agreed to quit practicing dentistry.

In some extreme cases, those who commented said that behavior like this is why they left the dental profession altogether. They witnessed unethical and immoral behavior to the point they no longer wanted to be a part of the profession.

“The last dentist I worked for demanded I do something that was wrong. It would have been supervised neglect on my part and I would have risked my license all in the name of saving money ... I tell people to get second opinions on dental work just like they'd get second opinions on surgeries. The world is changing and so is the field I once loved and cherished.”

Many of you said you’ve had to deal with patients who went to “scary” and “incompetent” dentists before they visited your dental practice. As a result, the phobias and fear are very real, and you have to help them work through their fears and become used to visiting a compassionate and competent dental practice again. Fortunately, the majority of dental practices fall into the competent category, of course, but as in any profession, you acknowledge that the “house of horrors” in dentistry make the job harder for everyone else.

A valid point that other commenters brought up is: Where were the rest of the dental team members while this was going on? Did they feel trapped? Were they under pressure to conform and go along? How did the situation get so out of hand?

But you all agreed, these children will probably be scarred for life regarding visiting the dentist, or perhaps any doctor for that matter. You agreed that what makes the situation even worse is that the victims come from low income families, who had no other choice in dentists because it was reported that no other dentist in the area accepted Medicaid.

Some of you shared personal horror stories, and yes, your scars are deep. One commenter said that as a child, a dental team member witnessed her being abused by the dentist, who was on probation for harming other patients.

“I have suffered greatly ever since and live with great physical and financial losses. The staff … should be held equally accountable when they fail to act to protect a patient.”

Another said when she was 12, the dentist “drew the blinds closed and started drilling before my gums were numb to make me be still. He sat on top of me and my mother came in and was hitting him with her purse to get him off of me.”

Some of you recommended allowing parents into the operatory with their children. This is the case in many pediatric dental offices. But in many cases, parents may not know the protocol, or may be too intimidated by the doctor and staff to even ask, let alone demand being allowed to accompany their children. You commented that in cases like this, families are being taken advantage of.

“Parents should never be refused to go back with their children. They don't always have to, but if they want to, they should be allowed. Every time. Most dentists are just fine with that.”

And how about a little turnabout is fair play? “Someone should perform dental work on Schneider without anesthetics and see how he would like that!” and “He needs to go to prison and let some prisoners hold him down!”

“The Florida State Board of Dentistry should be held accountable too,” one commenter concluded. “This man had issues with this type of crap years ago and nothing was done then. Plus Medicaid has paid him ‘millions’ over the years to abuse children. The very board that is supposed to oversee professional licensure to ‘protect the public’ failed to do so again.”

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