Dr. Randall M. Wilk operates a medical practice in Gretna dedicated to the surgical treatment of diseases in the head and neck. http://www.drrandallwilk.com/#
Approximately 25 percent of his patients are cancer sufferers. Licensed to practice medicine in the state of Louisiana (License No. MD022962), Wilk earned his medical degree from the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. He did his general surgery training at the Ochsner Medical Institutions and did his head and neck surgery training in Portland, Oregon.
He also has a Ph.D. in anatomy from LSU and a DDS from the Baylor College of Dentistry and has a certificate in oral surgery.
But even though he does not operate a dental facility, that DDS degree has cost him more than $100,000 in legal fees because of the heavy-handed tactics of the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry which carried its badgering of Wilk all the way to the floors of the Louisiana House and Senate.
“Since graduating from dental school 25 years ago I have never filled a tooth, made a denture, made a crown, cleaned teeth, restored a tooth, or anything that one would consider a dental practice,” Wilk says, adding that he went “from graduating dental school in 1987 to starting graduate school” that same year.
Wilk noted that the dental board, in its 2009 financial statement, reported a loss to the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) of more than $60,000 and that the only plan put forth for managing that loss was “higher revenue from the collection of fines.”
Within weeks of that report, Wilk said, “I received a letter from the board sating that they had received a complaint on me from a Camp Morrison.”
Morrison, a private investigator, has worked for the board for numerous years under a series of contracts totaling more than $1 million. Moreover, even though he is an independent contractor, he is given free office space in the board’s suite at the high-rent One Canal Place office building in New Orleans.
Dating back to 1997, Morrison was issued nine consecutive contracts totaling more than $1.8 million. Most of his contracts were for two-year durations. His first, from March 1, 1997 to Feb. 28, 2000, was for $45,000. But from Sept. 1, 2000, through Aug. 31, 2002, his contract more than trebled, to $150,000 and increased again to $200,000 with his next contract which ran from Sept. 1, 2002 through Aug. 31, 2004.
Beginning on Sept. 1, 2004, he was awarded four consecutive two-year contracts of $240,000 each. Those four contracts combined to run through Aug. 31, 2012.
For whatever reason, on Sept. 1, 2012, the board cut his contract back to nine months and $110,000 but when that pact expired on June 30, 2013, he was issued a new contract, this one for three years, from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2016, for $340,000.
Wilk said he was told that Morrison had reported to the board “that they had no record of me having an anesthesia permit from the dental board in 2007, that they had no record of me having a certificate in oral surgery, and that I was suspended from the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
“All of those are false statements,” he said, but the board refused to produce a copy of Morrison’s report. “I believe that filing a false report is a crime.”
Wilk said a meeting was scheduled and at that meeting two board members said they wanted him to sign a consent decree and to pay the board $5,000.
When Wilk said he had no intention of signing anything without first having his attorney examine the document, they left the room for a short time and returned with an adding machine “and told me that if I did not sign the document right then and there, that they could levy fines of over $100,000.”
He said the two handed him the adding machine tape “and placed the consent decree in front of me. For those familiar with the Godfather movies, the only thing missing was Luca Brassi with a pistol to my head.” He said a board member said it appeared that he (Wilk) felt his medical degree was more important than his dental degree.
“This was a pure and simple shakedown,” Wilk said.
He said it’s not unusual for medical specialists to obtain a dental degree prior to going to medical school and residency. “In the state of Louisiana, dozens of doctors are in this position. At least half-a-dozen are otolaryngologists, several are plastic surgeons, general surgeons, head and neck surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, gastroenterologists, anesthesiologists, even psychiatrists.
“Having a dental degree does not make your medical practice a dental practice,” he said.
Apparently the dental board and its investigator, Camp Morrison, disagree. Here are minutes of a 2011 dental board meeting at which Wilk’s case is discussed. DENTAL BOARD MINUTES MAY 20, 2011 (bottom of page 14)
Moreover, the DENTAL BOARD BULLETIN also mentions disciplinary action against Wilk (Item no. 14 in the left column near the bottom of page 3).
Wilk obtained legal counsel but the barrage from the dental board continued “for almost two years,” he said. “They subpoenaed me five times, requested copies of my patient records for several years and required my staff to go over 12,000 records. The final documents sent to them weighed several hundred pounds.
“Despite my being represented by counsel, Mr. Morrison continued to serve me subpoenas, to appear in my office waiting room, the operating room at Ochsner Hospital and at my home,” all the while passing out his cards to people and saying he was the investigator for the board of dentistry.”
Eventually, the board relented somewhat by notifying Wilk’s attorneys that if he paid the board $10,000 the matter would “go away.” Wilk said he feels that such tactics are tantamount to corruption or shakedowns. Again, he refused to pay.
Louisiana Revised Statute 37:793 (H) (2) says:
- A personal permit is not required when the dentist uses the services of (1) a trained medical doctor, (2) doctor of osteopathy trained in conscious sedation with parenteral drugs, (3) certified registered nurse anesthetist, (4) a dentist who has successfully completed a program consistent with Part II of the American Dental Association Guidelines on Teaching the Comprehensive Control of Pain and Anxiety in Dentistry, or (5) a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon provided that the doctor or certified registered nurse anesthetist remains on the premises of the dental facility until any patient given parenteral drugs is sufficiently recovered.
When Wilk’s pointed out that the statute “specifically exempts me from what they are fining me for, their lawyer stated that he will have to ‘get that law changed.’” Wilk said. He said the board, which in 2010 reported an operating loss of $104,000, “held its own trial and fined me and held me for the board’s legal costs, totaling about $100,000.” They are their own judge, jury, and executioners,” he said. DENTISTRY BOARD 2009 FINANCIAL STATEMENT
The board subsequently prevailed on then-State Rep. Herbert Dixon to introduce legislation giving the dental board the necessary leverage to pursue claims against medical practitioners like Wilk who were not practicing dentists.
Wilk was scheduled to testify in committee against Dixon’s bill, HB 172, at 10 a.m. on May 15, 2012 but upon arriving, learned that the bill had been moved up to first on the calendar and had already been discussed and passed by the committee. It subsequently passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, yet more evidence that legislators often pass bills without really knowing what they contain or the implications of the language.
Wilk said that State Sen. David Heitmeier (D-New Orleans) had a discussion with Peyton Burkhalter, who had by then succeeded Barry Ogden as executive director of the board, and that Burkhalter had assured Heitmeier that the board had decided to drop the charges against Wilk. “He said that Mr. Morrison’s Gestapo tactics would end,” Wilk said.
State Sen. Fred Mills (R-Breaux Bridge) told LouisianaVoice on Thursday that he and former House Speaker Jim Tucker (R-Terrytown) had experienced clashes with the board in the past. “They’ve got some problems with that board,” he said, “and I believe the answer in the end will be the establishment of oversight over them,” he said. “We’ve had to threaten them with legislative action, including replacing the entire board, in order to back them down in the past.”
Wilk said he feels there is outright corruption on the board and that its shakedowns of dentists and non-dentists alike constitutes extortion. “Knowing that no violation of any statute occurred but demanding payment under threat of costly litigation is unethical conduct,” he said.
“I believe that their changing the law was intended to persecute me but also puts many other practitioners at risk. The implications…are far-reaching and as such constitute a restraint of trade. The precedent set by this bill (HB 172) (allows) other boards to reach beyond their jurisdiction. This law does nothing to protect the public,” he said.