JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What a Jacksonville pediatric dentist, who is accused of fraud, called a "compassionate technique," many of his young patients and their families said was more like a torture device.
Dr. Howard S. Schneider, who was indicted on 11 counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of schemes to defraud, is accused by parents of strapping their screaming children to a “papoose board” during treatment at his University Boulevard office.
A judge ruled last year that Schneider was not competent to face trial. Schneider will be periodically reevaluated to see if that status changes and he can stand trial.
In medical records brought to the I-TEAM after they were found by a good Samaritan in boxes on the side of Beach Boulevard, Schneider labeled the papoose boards as a “compassionate technique” to perform "safe, comfortable and quality dental treatment.”
Some of the parents of his patients would disagree, although based on the records, which the I-TEAM arranged to have picked up by Schneider's attorneys, some of them signed consent forms for the papoose boards.
Schneider's attorneys said the 102 medical records found in the boxes "inadvertently fell off a truck" when they were being transported after the dental office building was foreclosed on. They said someone tried to pick the files up in the rain, but "Mother Nature had other plans."
News4Jax kept the files in a secured location in our building to maintain safe custody of the sensitive documents as we arranged for them to be picked up by Schneider's attorneys. It's still unclear if any laws were broken in regard to how the files were handled.
Although the records showed some parents agreed to Schneider (pictured in court) using the papoose boards, one mother told News4Jax that she never consented to have her toddler daughter strapped down.
“You could hear the kids in the back. They were crying. They didn't let the parents back there. I don't know if anyone ever told you that, but they didn't let the parents back there,” Kristine Brown said. “You sat out in the waiting room.”
Brown said she now believes that even though she never signed a consent form, her 2-year-old daughter was strapped on a papoose board.
Images given to the I-TEAM by a source show the boards in exam rooms and stacked in closets, along with orange and black straps used to hold children down. The source told News4Jax that 12 papoose boards were found inside the practice, which had only a few rooms.
“If you could say something to the old man you would,” Brown said. “These kids, they can't say nothing. They can't say, 'No, don't do that.'”
In an ironic twist, Schneider is refusing to consent to an MRI to prove that his mental health is failing and he's still not fit to stand trial.
He said he's claustrophobic.
Brown said hearing that made her blood boil.
“Oh! Let's strap him down and put him in there. Let's let him have a taste of his own medicine,” Brown said. “But then you can't because his lawyer will say it's inhumane, but then what do you say to the children you did that to?”