Dentist with N.J. practices did unnecessary ‘baby root canals’ on kids, feds allege

A pediatric dentist who owns practices in New Jersey and New York agreed to pay more than $750,000 to settle allegations that his dentists performed and billed for medically unnecessary “baby root canals” on patients, officials said Thursday.

The settlement also resolved claims that Barry L. Jacobson and his company, HQRC Management Services, made billing errors to New York and New Jersey Medicaid contractors that caused inaccurate servicing provider information on claims for services performed at three of its locations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey and the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Both agencies investigated the civil allegations.

“It is unconscionable that medical professionals were willing to perform unnecessary dental procedures on children simply to make money,” Philip R. Sellinger, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said in a statement. “Recovering their ill-gotten gains only begins to undo this damage.”

The investigation stemmed from an April 2017 lawsuit filed by a former employee who alleged violations of the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government and share funds from a settlement, according to court documents and officials. The former employee will get $135,622 in total from the federal and state shares of the settlement.

Some HQRC dentists allegedly performed medically unnecessary pulpotomies, dubbed “baby root canals” on pediatric patients, according to officials. A pulpotomy is a procedure to restore the infected primary teeth of children. It involves a dentist removing infected and damaged areas from the upper teeth.

“Dr. Jacobson and HQRC admit [New York state officials] investigative findings that in some instances between 2011 and 2018, affiliated dentists performed and billed Medicaid for therapeutic pulpotomies not supported by the medical records maintained at the respective dental practices,” the New York State Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

“Dr. Jacobson and HQRC allegedly performed unnecessary and invasive dental procedures on children to line their own pockets,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said. “My office will not tolerate any instance of medically unnecessary procedures performed on vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries. I am grateful to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger and team for their partnership as we investigated this fraudulent scheme.”

New York state will receive about $432,000, the federal government will get approximately $314,000 and New Jersey will receive about $7,300, according to the settlement.

An attorney listed for Jacobson could not be immediately reached to comment Thursday night.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jacobson’s company now operates as PDS Management Solutions and includes the following practices: Pediatric Dentistry of Paterson, Pediatric Dentistry of Teaneck, Pediatric Dentistry of Wykoff, Pediatric Dentistry of Flushing, Pediatric Dentistry of the Bronx, Pediatric Dentistry of Valley Stream, Pediatric Dentistry of Brooklyn (Avenue U), Pediatric Dentistry of Brooklyn (Boro Park), Pediatric Dentistry of Monsey, Pediatric Dentistry of Kingston, Pediatric Dentistry of Albany, Pediatric Dentistry of Malone, and North Country Pediatric Dentistry.

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Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com.

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