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Pediatric dentist still awaiting results of mental evaluation

Dr. Howard Schneider facing Medicaid fraud charges

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An embattled pediatric dentist, who is facing 11 counts of Medicaid fraud, will have to wait another week to learn the results of a mental evaluation ordered by the court.

A judge appointed a third psychologist to conduct an evaluation of Dr. Howard S. Schneider, 78, but the psychologist needs more time to complete an MRI and possible blood work, the court said Monday.

The prosecution and defense in Schneider's case each hired medical experts to diagnose Schneider, who has pleaded not guilty to those charges and one count of scheme to defraud.

Schneider's trial was set to begin June 13, but the expert hired by the defense said he's not competent to stand trial, and until that issue is settled, the trial has been postponed. The prosecution's medical expert disagreed with the defense expert's assessment.

The results of the two evaluations have not been released.

Both sides agreed to hire a third medical expert, who will essentially be the deciding factor in whether Schneider is competent to stand trial. 

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 22. No trial date has been set. 

The state claims the pediatric dentist billed Medicaid hundreds of thousands of dollars for procedures he didn’t actually perform. Parents claim that Schneider abused children.

More than 100 patients have settled cases of claims the dentist “assaulted, humiliated, tortured and mutilated children.”

Attorney John Phillips, who represented some of those patients, was in the courtroom Monday awaiting the results of Schneider’s mental evaluation.

“The families just want it to be resolved, one way or the other,” Phillips said. “We want him to stand trial in the court of law. But, it begs the question, if he’s determined to be competent now, or incompetent, was he incompetent when he worked on these children? So, either way, there is some knowledge about what his mental condition is, that is relevant to the civil cases. But, for the most part, we just want Dr. Schneider to stand trial.”

Schneider remains free on $110,000 bond, and is now living in St. Simons Island, Georgia. 

COURT DOCUMENTS:
Motion to dismiss | Motion for protective order | Motion to declare defendant incompetent

Parents report abuse by dentist

Included in the state's evidence gathered for the fraud case are nearly a dozen similar accounts from parents telling investigators what they and their kids experienced in Schneider’s office:

"That man doctor threw me."
"He choked me and pulled my teeth."
"They’re lying to you."

The Office of the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit interviewed them as a part of its investigation of the dentist. Parents of Schneider's patients recounted hearing screams, children injured during procedures, and children getting procedures the parents didn't even know about.

Parents reported that their children's lips were bruised, their kids were very scared, and one patient was found face down on the floor.

One parent told investigators they took their child to Schneider's office for a procedure they were told would only take 30 minutes. After three hours, the parent went to the window three times, and an assistant finally said there was an incident.

When the parent was finally able to see the child, the child was hyperventilating and had marks, scratches and blood all over.

According to one document, Schneider’s assistant told the person the child was on a papoose board and, “We stepped out, came back and (he/she) was face first on the floor.”

But the child had a different story, telling investigators: “They’re lying to you. That man doctor threw me, and that lady picked me up when I was on the board, and she was laughing at me and sat on me and choked me.”
The parent told investigators, “I saw that my baby was missing all (his/her) teeth.”

The documents also include what experts told investigators about Schneider, including:

  • His consent form is too general, and he should get consent from parents before performing additional procedures. 
  • His charts had poor progress notes.
  • The quality of work performed on the patients was low and below standards of care.
  • The type and amount of sedation that Schneider was using on the children was very mild and would not be strong enough for a child 3 years or older.

One dentist who treated patients after they had seen Schneider told investigators, "It was like if Dr. Schneider had done crowns, the crown was gone. If Schneider had done a filling, the filling was gone."

DOCUMENTS IN EVIDENCE IN SCHNEIDER CASE:
Patient depositions: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | Doctor depositions 1 | 2

Schneider is also facing civil lawsuits from former patients.