Still reeling from the recent tusk-installation scandal, American dentistry was rocked again this weekend by revelations that a dentist in Waterville, Maine, had been suspended from practice for six months because of wild office parties and "terrifying" safety violations. A Maine newspaper reported Sunday that Dr. Denise Nadeau had been suspended by the state’s Board of Dental Examiners (which I’m sure has thrown some wild parties in its day) beginning in March. The newspaper obtained the investigator’s report and is apparently releasing the information now because the suspension is up in September, and she wants to resume practicing.
After three days of hearings, including testimony from former patients and employees, the board suspended Nadeau for six months, with five years of probation. It found that the office atmosphere started to get odd after a 2006 after-hours party that featured rum and tequila being poured on "various body parts." (The dentist claimed she was not in the room for that but the board found her testimony "incredible.") It also noted that she had treated some patients while dressed as a belly-dancer, showed various nude pictures around the office, and allowed her office manager to sell "sexual aids" over the phone.
There was also evidence of misconduct. A dental assistant described safety conditions in the office as "terrifying," and a patient testified about a botched operation in which the wrong tooth was pulled. She told the board that she thought her "face was going to explode," although since she apparently got 14 shots of anesthetic during the five-hour procedure, it is hard to see how she could feel her face at all. Ultimately, the board found Nadeau was not competent to continue practicing in her then-current state, having violated a number of board standards including those precluding drug use, or at least I’m inferring that from the board’s language saying that the dentist "used a controlled substance for purposes other than dentistry." She may be able to resume practicing later this year if she can meet various conditions set forth by the board.
Nadeau’s attorney has said his client has no past history of disciplinary problems, that she was under a great deal of stress at the time of the activities in question, and that he is planning an appeal of the board’s findings.