A former employee of Smiles 4 Kids, a Washington-based pediatric dental chain, filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the company of reusing disposable dental tools. As a result, the Washington State Dental Quality Assurance Commission is now investigating the organization.
The whistleblower was Lisa Walker, a former office manager at the Smiles 4 Kids building in Tacoma. She claims Dr. Justin VanBibber, who is the dentist overseeing the Smiles 4 Kids businesses, instructed her to reuse disposable Isolite mouthpieces, telling her to put them in the cold sterile and then re-use them on patients. Walker said she refused to do so, as the instructions on the mouthpiece clearly state that it is a disposable product not meant for reuse, as reusing it could result in the spread of pathogens and infections.
In addition, a dental assistant told Walker she found Isolite mouthpieces soaking in sterilizing solutions. Walker met with the compliance officer for Smiles 4 Kids, who said the problem would get taken care of immediately.
Dr. VanBibber later wrote in an email that the compliance officer “really screwed” him, as not reusing the mouthpieces would see costs go up. He instructed office managers to “make her (a different dentist) happy” by not reusing the mouthpieces when she was around, but to continue doing so otherwise.
A box of 10 mouthpieces costs only $25.
Protect others by revealing wrongdoing
In many cases, whistleblowers who take action can bring an end to illegal practices and save taxpayers money. In cases such as this one, however, they may also call attention to issues that threaten public health and safety.
To learn more about how you can report wrongdoing within your company or organization and protect your rights as a whistleblower, speak with a dedicated attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.