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Whistleblowers Sue Dental Practice

A whistleblower’s lawsuit has been filed by two former employees of a troubled Ocala dental practice.

Polliwog Dental, the focus of investigations by the Florida Department of Health and theU.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is being sued for retaliation and failure to pay overtime to the two fired workers, the Ocala Star-Banner reported (paywall alert).

The lawsuit says employee Andrea Frederick used a cellphone to videotape Polliwog owner and dentist Dr. Michael Tarver as he altered medical records that had been subpoenaed by DOH. The other worker, Tiffany Sullivan, alleges that Tarver ordered her to stall investigators and refuse to turn over records, the lawsuit states.

The former employees are asking the court for $15,000 per allegation and attorney’s fees. Tarver told the Star-Banner he would have no comment.

The Star-Banner reports that problems first emerged at the practice in July, when DEA investigators visited the Ocala practice, took some files and questioned employees. That investigation continues.
In September, Tarver was suspended under an emergency DOH order. That suspension stems from allegations involving two 4-year-old patients, but the local State Attorney’s Office said they found no reason to charge the dentist with child abuse, the paper reports.

Last month, Tarver and the DOH reached a settlement with the state's Board of Dentistry, which includes a $7,500 fine, education and the requirement that Tarver hand over operation of the business. The day before the hearing Polliwog changed its name to Churchill Dentistry. Tarver’s wife and business partner continue to run the practice.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.