LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Pulling the wrong teeth, ignoring patient pain, and failing to follow proper sterilization protocols are just a few findings against an oral surgeon in Lewiston.
Dr. Jan Kippax recently received his third license suspension in March 2017 from the Maine Board of Dental Practice.
NEWS CENTER went to get answers after more viewers called and wrote with similar complaints to the ones others filed against him.
The most recent suspension ended last month, and he’s practicing again, which bothers some of his former patients.
Meagan Westervelt went to Dr. Kippax back in February of 2016 to have teeth removed. She says what happened to her, both during and after her surgery, is part of an investigation against him.
She went to Dr. Jan Kippax to have two teeth removed. Westervelt says Kippax was one of the only dentists near who accepts MaineCare, and who could get her in for an appointment quickly.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that there are 432 affiliated and actively enrolled rendering providers with a contract in MaineCare.
“He felt I needed four teeth extracted, not two," she said.
Westervelt opted for general anesthesia. When she woke up, she says her mouth was a mess.
“I woke up choking and coughing on my own blood. No gauze in my mouth, no stitches.”
She got home and looked in the mirror. But it was worse than she feared.
“It wasn’t just four teeth he pulled – it was five," she said. "I discovered he pulled the wrong one and chipped a tooth in the process.”
Westervelt filed a complaint with the Maine Board of Dental Practice, claiming Dr. Kippax pulled the wrong tooth, and provided no stitches or gauze, and prescribed inadequate medicine to deal with the pain.
“You go under anesthesia – there’s a great deal of trust involved and you feel violated," said Westervelt.
In line with Board procedures, Dr. Kippax responded to Westervelt’s complaint, writing that he told Westervelt he felt she needed five teeth pulled and believes he pulled the correct teeth. He also states that he believes stitches were not necessary because the extractions were not surgical, but “simple.” He wrote gauze would not be an appropriate treatment.
Westervelt’s complaint isn’t the first against Dr. Kippax.
NEWS CENTER found three disciplinary actions taken against Dr. Kippax.
A suspension of his license in 2002 stemmed from a laundry list of complaints, including that Dr. Kippax:
“did not wash his hands between surgeries”
“wore gloves contaminated with patient blood and/or saliva when touching sterilized dental instruments”
“dropped sterilized dental instruments on the operatory floor and reused them in patients’ mouths without properly sterilizing them”
“extracted the wrong tooth, rinsed the tooth with water, and unsuccessfully attempted to reinsert that tooth back in the patient’s mouth,” as well as not properly addressing patients’ pain.
A 2003 suspension of his license came from similar complaints: removing the wrong teeth, and failing to properly assess patient complaints of pain.
On February 17 of this year, the Dental Board investigated another series of complaints, including Westervelt’s. Her complaint was part of a list that accused Dr. Kippax of, “continuing with painful procedures after patients asked him to stop,” “failed to provide patients with appropriate aftercare instructions,” “performing procedures while not wearing gloves or not changing contaminated gloves,” and “extracting teeth other than those intended to be extracted.”
Kippax’s license was suspended for 30 days.
Now, he's practicing again.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see someone continue his practice when it’s a joke," said Westervelt.
NEWS CENTER called Dr. Kippax’s office for a comment twice.
Someone in the office picked up and said, "Chris, thank you for calling, goodbye.”
NEWS CENTER also called Kippax’s lawyer, James Belleau, and left three voicemails, sent four e-mails, and got no response.
There’s one question specifically for the Dental Board that we wanted answered:
After numerous complaints and disciplinary actions, what does it take for a dentist to get his or her license revoked?
Our request for an in-person interview with the Dental Board was denied, because spokesperson Doug Dunbar felt it was, “inappropriate for staff and board members to be interviewed when involved with ongoing potential investigations and complaint cases.”
So we e-mailed our questions.
Executive Director of the Board Penny Vaillancourt responded, writing, "The Board may consider previous discipline with similar conduct or violations when imposing sanctions.
The Board can consider a variety of sanctions, including revocation, for any violation enumerated in statute. As noted earlier, each case presents a different set of facts, and sanctions are imposed relative and appropriate to the unprofessional conduct or incompetent practice violations as determined by the Board.”
Dr. Kippax is still able to practice in Maine.
Westervelt says it isn’t right.
“He needs to have his license revoked. There’s no way this man should be practicing. Absolutely not.”
Westervelt said she is now part of an effort to organize a class action lawsuit against Kippax.