Homecomplaint › Thomas - Alhambra, CA - West Coast Dental of South Gate

Consumer Complaint

Thomas - Alhambra, CA - West Coast Dental of South Gate

Companies Involved: 
West Coast Dental, West Coast Dental of South Gate, Dr. Mihir Shah DDS
Issue Area: 
Heath Care

My present situation is this: I paid $3450.00 on January 21, 2016, and they have kept the full amount. $3000.00 of that was for two partial dentures they recommended – upper and lower. I have not had any of their recommended work done except I had five teeth extracted at $23 copayment per tooth, totaling $115.00, leaving $3335.00 prepaid in my account Firstly, I cancelled the lower partial the first time I was presented the form for fitting. The upper partial, they never prepared or delivered to me at all. The lower partial, Marisol, the Accounts Manager at the South Gate office told me that in order for her to try and request the cancellation and statement credit of $1500.00, I would have to return it to her. Her inference was that they would not let me cheat them by getting a refund and keeping the partial to use it at the same time. They now claim they did the bone marrow transplant, but I don’t remember them doing it, and at this point, I do not believe them. I did as she instructed, that is returned it to her. She subsequently informed me that they could not give me the credit, as they had delivered a partial that was made by ethical and proper dental standards. That is completely false, plus they never returned it to me. So they denied the credit and kept the partial. And they never presented me an upper partial. So I have neither partial - I have nothing - and yet they are contending that I must pay for both, in full. I know their arguments regarding the lower, but they have never addressed the subject of the upper with me, despite my repeated requests. What choice did I have but to accept their initial recommendations? When I came into their office, I had three broken teeth and was in considerable pain, needing immediate treatment. They advised me I needed upper and lower partials, the extractions and one bone marrow transplant. How can I argue with the dentist, or get another point of view? I had an emergency and could not stop and get a second opinion. So we proceeded with the work The extractions were scheduled for two different occasions and were done. Then we had to let my jaw and gums heal enough so that impressions could be made for the partial dentures. Making appointments and performing the extractions took a couple of months. Letting my mouth heal took a couple of months. So about four months from January 21, we took impressions for the partials. They prepared a lower partial and brought it to me for fitting purposes. It was not a final partial. So around June - their records can confirm the actual dates of my appointments. (I will try to reconstruct the dates from notes that I have.) - Dr. Shah brought me the lower partial for fitting. I was shocked and also confused by what he presented me. The first thing I noticed was that it was a hard plastic - hard and unbendable. He had told me, when he was initially advising me, that the partials that he recommended were a softer, malleable material than either of the two covered by my Blue Shield dental insurance. I mentioned this to him. His response was, "Oh this is not the final. This is just for fitting - and you may need some time and several adjustments before we can prepare the final for you. And the final is made of softer more comfortable material that also conforms itself better to your gum, fitting better." But I had other and considerable trouble immediately. I could not get it into place in my mouth. The partial for fitting was almost impossible to get in. I had to push with all my strength, and it broke the side of one of my teeth. Once it was in, I could not get it out. It was painful to wear. When I tried to eat with it, it drew the food up under it, between it and my gum, so that it was so painful I could not bite down or chew. Consequently it made eating more difficult than simply not using it, and I did not value it for cosmetic purposes, as it was the lower, and my missing teeth are not visible. I decided that my preference and decision was to cancel the procedure - as he had said I could. I told Dr. Shah stop immediately, cancel the procedures, I did not want them. He convinced me to take it home and work with it. At home it was completely unusable. If I had to pay for it, I would not use it ever, at all. I called the office twice within two days telling them my feelings about the partial, my desire and instructions to please cancel the procedures immediately. They seem to have taken the approach that they delivered a finished product and somehow I accepted it, which is ludicrous or simply lies. They were frantic to get me back in the chair so they could do more work on me. I believe it was their motivation to make adjustments so that I could use the partial(s) and would be satisfied. I refused further treatment. Yet they continue to exonerate themselves and blame me - for everything - it seems. And yet, I was polite, cooperative and respectful to them always. My mistake was that in my emergency, I accepted their hyped-up aggressive salesmanship for a product that was misrepresented, overpriced and that I did not need anyway. But I trusted them to recommend what was best for my mouth. I should not have been so trustful. Someone said, trust but verify. I had thought of them as trustworthy, but they were not. They were too tightly geared to maximizing their "production". They saw a bad tooth as a root canal and a crown, when I saw it as an extraction. We had very different points of reference. Theirs was to maximize the money spent, and mine was to minimize it. For them, taking $4000 or $7500 out of your pocket was nothing. They had lost sight of the patients' interests, would not listen to what the patient wanted, and worked aggressively (and manipulatively) to do the most possible work on your mouth. It is my firm and reasoned conviction that my dentist(s) failed to act in my best interest, recommending expensive and unnecessary procedures, requiring they be prepaid, and then not standing behind their spoken and written assurances, warranties and guarantees, in effect forcing me to pay for receiving to date nothing. In summary I paid $3000.00 for two partial dentures but received nothing and have nothing. I see that they are continuing to argue that somehow they delivered them to me. Then they even have indicated I accepted them. These are flat-out lies: there is no way to bend the truth around to that point of view. If required to substantiate or document their arguments, they cannot. They did not do as they are pretending to have done. They talk gibberish as much as possible to avoid addressing the issues directly. They know that if examined they are developing a pattern of fraud. My dentist Dr. Mihir Shah recommended to me upper and lower partial dentures that were not covered by my insurance, costing me $3000.00 out of pocket. I could have had covered procedures with copays of $680.00 or $1050.00, but he argued strongly in favor of the $3000.00 non-covered ones, saying they were much better. I have explained the issues and problems we had with the lower partial denture. And I reiterate, I do not have that partial. They required that in order to request a credit for it, I must return it to them. I did so, and they denied the credit and kept the partial. I have not discussed very well the issue of the upper partial. I have nine teeth contiguous to one another across my upper jaw. They are working fine as of this date. For the life of me, I cannot see why I was recommended an upper partial denture and why I have paid for it, and why they refuse to issue me a requested credit for it, so in effect I have paid for something I never received. It is clearer to me now that I did not and still do not need an upper partial denture. It has been a year and a half since they recommended it and I paid for it, and my upper teeth are working fine. They bite and chew fine and they look fine. And I have had no work done on them. The last work performed on my teeth was by West Coast Dental of South Gate. I do not know why they recommended it for me or even why I accepted their advice. When I first came into their office in January 2016, I had three broken teeth and was in severe pain. I believe at that point that I felt desperate and entrusted them with my care to do what was best for me. Comments: Health providers - dentists, doctors, chiropractors - have a dual function: they provide expert advice and recommendations and they perform the work that they recommend. In other areas of society, this dual function is deeply suspect or disallowed by law.* It is the purpose of law in most areas to avoid conflict of interest.** The common principle is to provide safeguards against the abuse of power.*** Stock brokers are looked at warily when they broker the transactions they recommend to clients. Many of the largest institutions do not do this: Fidelity Investments, for example. Many others know from past experience and from the public's awareness that this is often not in the best interests. Most large institutions - Schwab, and others provide general information and provide systems for gathering and analyzing financial information, but they draw a line at providing specific buy and sell recommendations. Our United States government itself has deeply embedded in its foundations and fabric the principle of checks and balances to power, because we know abuse of power - from examples of history and from our knowledge of human nature. Perhaps one of the reasons the United States spends more in gross and per capita than any nation in the world for health care and yet ranks 23rd in the quality of care provided as measured by the World Health Organization, is the way the industry is structured. I know personally of the following experiences, relying unquestioningly on medical advice. My father was being prepped for surgery, and it seemed strange to him. He inquired what they were doing, to which they replied: "We are preparing for your leg amputation." My father had been admitted for chest pain. They had the wrong patient. My mother fell and was admitted for severe hip pain. The doctors advised my sister that after performing examinations including x-rays that my mother's hip was not broken. Her pain persisted at high levels, so my sister talked to the doctors, who finally performed secondary x-rays and after two weeks indicated, "Yes, your mom's hip is broken." My neighbor for 35 years complained to his doctor of severe abdominal pain. His doctor indicated his appendix was infected and should be removed. After the surgery, the doctor said, "We opened you up and found your appendix was fine, but we thought as long as we were in there we should remove it anyway. You don't need it." I have pursued my case little by little over the past year, but nothing has worked. I just continue going in the hope of getting a fair settlement. Nothing has worked so far, in addressing the simple fairness, ethicalness or legalities involved. I did not rush off to small claims court because of the expense, I am not represented and they might be, there are many procedures involved, and I need documentation in detail for every imaginable issue and concern. So I put it down as a last resort. * Smog Test Only stations are not allowed to do the work they recommend. California law even prohibits them from making referrals to repair facilities. California Bill Number: AB 2289 44014.5(b) The repair of vehicles at test-only facilities is prohibited, except that the minor repair of components damaged by station personnel during inspection at the station, any minor repair that is necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle while at a station, or other minor repairs, such as the reconnection of hoses or vacuum lines, may be undertaken at no charge to the vehicle owner or operator if authorized in advance in writing by the department. 44014.5 (c) The department shall make available to consumers of test-only facilities a list, compiled by region, of smog check stations licensed to make repairs of vehicular emission control systems. A test-only facility shall not refer a vehicle owner to any particular provider of vehicle repair services in which the test-only facility has a financial interest. ** Conflict of interest in the health care industry occurs when the primary goal of protecting and increasing the health of patients comes into conflict with any other secondary goal, especially personal gain to healthcare professionals, and increasing revenue to a healthcare organization from selling health care products and services. A widely used definition is: "A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest."[1] Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes personal benefit and is not limited to only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement, or the wish to do favors for family and friends. These secondary interests are not treated as wrong in and of themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. Conflict of interest rules in the public sphere mainly focus on financial relationships since they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable, and usually involve the political, legal, and medical fields. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest *** When individuals and groups put themselves forth as repositories and purveyors of specific knowledge and powers not available the population at large, there has always been the danger that these experts will tend to act more in their own self-interest, rather than that of their customers, clients or constituencies. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902) Further Notes: Types of Conflict of Interest https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest_in_the_healthcare_ind... The following are the most common forms of conflicts of interests: Self-dealing, in which an official who controls an organization causes it to enter into a transaction with the official, or with another organization that benefits the official only. The official is on both sides of the "deal." Outside employment, in which the interests of one job conflict with another. Nepotism, in which a spouse, child, or other close relative is employed (or applies for employment) by an individual, or where goods or services are purchased from a relative or from a firm controlled by a relative. To avoid nepotism in hiring, many employment applications ask if the applicant is related to a current employee of the company. This allows recusal if the employed relative has a role in the hiring process. If this is the case, the relative could then recuse from any hiring decisions. Gifts from friends who also do business with the person receiving the gifts or from individuals or corporations who do business with the organization in which the gift recipient is employed. Such gifts may include non-tangible things of value such as transportation and lodging. Pump and dump, in which a stock broker who owns a security artificially inflates the price by "upgrading" it or spreading rumors, sells the security and adds short position, then "downgrades" the security or spreads negative rumors to push the price down. Other improper acts that are sometimes classified as conflicts of interests may have better classification. For example, accepting bribes can be classified as corruption, use of government or corporate property or assets for personal use is fraud, and unauthorized distribution of confidential information is a security breach. For these improper acts, there is no conflict inherent conflict. COI is sometimes termed competition of interest rather than "conflict", emphasizing a connotation of natural competition between valid interests - rather than the classical definition of conflict, which would include by definition including a victim and unfair aggression. Nevertheless, this denotation of conflict of interest is not generally seen. Self-regulation of any group is also a conflict of interest. If any organization, such as a corporation or government bureaucracy, is asked to eliminate unethical behavior within their own group, it may be in their interest in the short run to eliminate the appearance of unethical behavior, rather than the behavior itself, by keeping any ethical breaches hidden, instead of exposing and correcting them. An exception occurs when the ethical breach is already known by the public. In that case, it could be in the group's interest to end the ethical problem to which the public has knowledge, but keep remaining breaches hidden. Prepaying for dental treatment is an extreme hazard, in my case and I think in most. As the patient, the burden of proof has shifted upon me to present, argue and obtain back my own money. And my situation is that they convinced me to get procedures not covered by my insurance. So I don’t have them to fight for me. I am on my own. I am 66 ½ years old and suffered my whole life with bipolar disorder. It is difficult for me to reconstruct the events as they happened with some knowledge of contracts, commercial, tort and dental law in order to even present my case. But I think anyone without a college degree, or whose English is not good, or who is disabled or in all kinds of difficult personal circumstances, cannot fight their dentist. Thank-you so much for your concern and for working so hard to provide fair and equitable results. Sincerely, Thomas