'Papoose boards' for pediatric dentists controversial around country

Parents tell I-TEAM how Dr. Howard S. Schneider strapped down their kids

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter, Francine Frazier - Senior web editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After an I-TEAM report detailing the use of papoose boards by an embattled Jacksonville pediatric dentist accused of abusing patients, News4Jax heard from dozens of parents who shared stories of their terrified children being strapped to the boards during treatment.

Papoose boards are a hot topic nationwide, the I-TEAM learned.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does approve the use of protective stabilization methods but said they should be used sparingly because there are risks.

A 4-year-old girl was left with permanent brain damage from being strapped to a papoose board in Texas.

The family of Nevaeh Hall said they had no idea that a dentist restrained her. According to a lawsuit settled in Texas in 2016, Nevaeh was tied down and given large doses of anesthesia.

She suffered a massive seizure and now she lives with severe brain damage.

The dentist involved lost her license.

In another case of a dentist using a papoose board without parental consent, 7-year old Chloe Tobias told News4Jax sister station KPRC in Houston about a terrifying ordeal in Spring, Texas.

“Tied my legs and my head down. They were hurting me,” Chloe said. “They went to the room and put me on the table and then tied me up and tied my hands, tied my legs and my head down.”

Chloe's father, Joseph Tobias, said he took her in for a routine check-up but was then told she needed fillings that same day.

“They had us come in and sign some paperwork. It was all digital on a computer. There was probably 15 to 20 different boxes we had to initial,” Tobias said. “We went through it within seconds. It was really quick -- just initial, initial, initial, not really an explanation on what we were doing.”

He said he wasn't allowed in the room and had no idea the dentist would be restraining his daughter using a device called a papoose board.

“It wasn't until after everything was done and I got it out of my daughter -- my daughter is the one who explained it to me,” Tobias said. “She was in tears. She was shaking. She was really scared.”

Nearly 50 former patients of Dr. Howard S. Schneider shared similar stories with the I-TEAM.

Schneider, who was indicted on 11 counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of schemes to defraud, has a hearing Wednesday in Duval County on the charges.

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 2015, Schneider was also accused by parents of abusing dozens of young children at his office, and many have sued him.

In documentation, Schneider called the boards a “compassionate technique” to perform "safe, comfortable and quality dental treatment.”

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.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry said the method of restraining children should only be done with parental consent and as a last resort.

The Academy also recommends a parent remain in the room with the child and warns "the use of protective stabilization may lead to potential serious consequences such as physical and psychological harm."

Experts offer this advice for parents:

  1. Always stay in the room with your child
  2. Schedule a consultation with your child present before any treatment is preformed
  3. Use a pediatric dentist because they have advanced training in handling children

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