Dr. Mommy Dentist

Monday, July 30, 2007

interesting story

Dentist Wins Case Over Tusks in Mouth

('OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- An oral surgeon who temporarily implanted fake boar tusks in his assistant's mouth as a practical joke and got sued for it has gotten the state's high court to back up his gag.');

Published: July 27, 2007
Filed at 2:45 p.m. ET

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- An oral surgeon who temporarily implanted fake boar tusks in his assistant's mouth as a practical joke and got sued for it has gotten the state's high court to back up his gag.
Dr. Robert Woo of Auburn had put in the phony tusks while the woman was under anesthesia for a different procedure. He took them out before she awoke, but he first shot photos that eventually made it around the office.
The employee, Tina Alberts, felt so humiliated when she saw the pictures that she quit and sued her boss.
Woo's insurance company, Fireman's Fund, refused to cover the claim, saying the practical joke was intentional and not a normal business activity his insurance policy covered, so Woo settled out of court. He agreed to pay Alberts $250,000, then he sued his insurers.
A King County Superior Court jury sided with Woo, ordering Fireman's Fund to pay him $750,000, plus the out-of-court settlement. The insurance company won the next round, with the state Court of Appeals saying the prank had nothing to do with Woo's practice of dentistry. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court restored Woo's award.
In a sprightly 5-4 decision, Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote that Woo's practical joke was an integral, if odd, part of the assistant's dental surgery and ''conceivably'' should trigger the professional liability coverage of his policy.
Dissenting Justice James Johnson said the prank wasn't a dental procedure at all and only ''rewards Dr. Woo's obnoxious behavior and allows him to profit handsomely.''
The back story, the court wrote, is that Alberts' family raises potbellied pigs and that she frequently talked about them at the office where she worked for five years.
Woo said his jests about the pigs were part of ''a friendly working environment'' that he tried to foster.
The oral surgery on Alberts was intended to replace two of her teeth with implants, which Woo did. First, though, he installed temporary bridges that he had shaped to look like boar tusks, and while Alberts was still under anesthesia, he took photos, some with her eyes propped open. Before she woke up, he removed the ''tusks'' and put in the proper replacement teeth.
Woo says he didn't personally show her the pictures but staffers gave her copies at a birthday party.
Woo's lawyer, Richard Kilpatrick, described the surgeon as a kindhearted, fun-loving man who was chagrined that an office prank turned out so badly. He was delighted with the high court's decision, Kilpatrick said.
Attorneys for the insurance company did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

it's funny how office dynamics work and the level of familiarity that people have and/or think they have amongst their co-workers. did this guy cross the line? it was obvious that this employee felt confident enough in his abilites and comfortable enough to ask this doctor to extract her teeth and replace with them implants, and it may be safe to assume that there was probably at least a certain level of familiarity between these two people (i never asked any of the dentists that i worked with for treatment until i'd been there long enough to establish a comfortable relationship, but that's just me). this may have given the doctor the false sense of security with this woman, and it sounds like he was a bit of a prankster himself so he felt like he could go ahead with such a "harmless" joke. personally, i thought it was kind of funny, especially if it was a joke between work friends. i could see how it was a lapse of judgement at the time and if he offended her, a profuse apology should have sufficed. i could even have understood the fact that she quit, as there was a breach of trust and now a lack of confidence. but to sue for $250,000 sounds preposterous to me. it's not like he took naked pictures of her and distributed them over the internet. the pictures were distributed amongst friends and coworkers at a birthday party, a party to which he was obviously invited and i don't know about you, but i don't invite random strangers or just any boss i work with to my birthday parties. is this another example of another good old american trying to bilk the legal system, or was this a truly legitimate complaint in which someone was horribly violated? when is that line crossed?

we as professionals do have to guard our words and our actions more stringently in the workplace. it is obvious that you cannot assume that level of familiarity with anyone, especially your coworkers. i had a very similar experience with this not that long ago. both of the offices i work in are very casual - the way we hang out after hours, talk amongst ourselves, and even the way we interact with the patients. we are all extremely friendly and comfortable with each other. the hygienist that i work with on saturdays has a page on facebook and when i signed up i noticed her picture on one of my friend's pages. it was an awesome shot of her in hot pants and a tight little top, and she looked absolutely stunning in it. so when i saw her again to ask if i could add her to my friends list, i said, "hey D, i saw your facebook picture, wow hoochie mama, it was awesome!" she didn't say anything to me but gave me this strange look and avoided me for the rest of the day. when i approached her the next week i worked with her and asked her what was wrong, and she told me what i had said to her was extremely offensive and that she does not use that kind of language, i was totally taken aback. i had worked with and chatted with this person for over a year, and even exchanged that word with my other co-workers and assumed no harm in it. of course i apologized profusely and she accepted, but the relationship has certainly changed and it will take time to build up that trust again on both ends. if i had learned anything from this experience, it is to not assume that level of familiarity with people, especially in the work environment. hopefully, she doesn't sue me or my malpractice insurance company.

Monday, July 23, 2007

My Simpsons Doppelganger

hopefully i won't see this one walking around springfield anytime soon. doppelgangers are supposed to be bad omens.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the aliens are coming and i'm going to new york!!!

either cookie's been watching too much t.v. or she was told something by the kids she was hanging out with at the pig roast, who knows, but she spent a good portion of time telling the other guests, complete strangers, btw, that the aliens' house was next door, that they left something in the backyard of ameloblast's house, and that they were coming for her. this kid is like a sponge, i don't know where she picks up some of the things she says. i really have to watch my mouth around her now, especially when i'm driving.

so it's been 9 months since i visited my old home in the big apple and i've traded enough trips to NY for trips to MI to warrant two place tickets to visit my old stomping grounds. this trip is going to cap off a pretty busy summer peppered with insanse hours at work, barbeques, weddings, and visits from my friends. cookie and i are driving to buffalo to fly jet blue my FAVE airline and the only one i'm convinced won't crash because because it has satellite t.v.'s on each seatback, into JFK. canuck will have the house to himself, free of estrogen for a few days. i'm so excited! i have a list of things to do when i get there, and of course almost all of them revolve around food and shopping. i'm also have to pencil in the tons of people to see, and how the hell am i going to squeeze this all in four days? my sister is also turning 18 on aug 11, and since i couldn't make it for her graduation i promised her i would take her to the beach. ooooh, i love the beaches on long island!!! if i'm going to parade around in my bikini, i should probably do my best to shed those excess 15 pounds in three weeks, which is not bloody likely but still a fantasy i like to entertain. ameloblast's pig roast didn't help much in that department.

here's a tribute list of new york things that i totally miss and will hopefully get to check off when i head over there in three weeks:

white castle a.k.a. "sliders"
grey's papaya - best hot dogs in the city
tasti-d-lite - as seen on sex and the city, who knows what's in there to make it taste so damn good and still low fat
zabar's - mine and canuck's favorite place to shop in dental school
dean and deluca - i used to work there! $55/pound chocolate! and i bumped into stephen baldwin, too.
the subway - the best in the world, rivaled possible only by london's underground
LIRR - we used to live in bayside before we moved here and my folks lived in hicksville (yes, that is the real name of the town)
central park
columbia university main campus

in other recent news, my dad got hit by a car when exiting the wantagh LIRR station (see above map) and is now holed up with a fractured thumb and a possible rotator cuff injury that may need surgery. of course, this happens on monday and i find out TODAY when i called to finalize my trip details, as me and cookie will be crashing with him for part of our trip. he is planning to sue the driver, the owner of the vehicle, and the insurance company, as is the good old american way. thank god he's alright, the chick that hit him apparently ran a stop sign and bolted out of the lot before smacking into him. it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

now i just have to get thru the next three weeks.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


because i have so much free time and no other obligations in my life, i relented and joined facebook. i've now officially perfected the fine art of procrastination.

i have to clean my house now. after i figure out which rfiend i should send my "free gift" to. and comment on all the other blogs i read. and check my e-mail, again.

man, this is going to be a problem.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

bombed out teeth!

okay, i've been getting a crapload of teeth with horrid subgingival caries. i've sent, like, six people to the periodontist for crown lengthening in the last two weeks! i've been kind of obsessive about the crown lengthening thing lately. i see so many teeth that should have had the surgery that didn't, and i think of all the crowns that i did that may or may not have needed it. i'm taking no more chances.

i had a guy shadow me over the last few days, a dude who is applying to dental school for next year. i liked having him around as i loved explaining all the stuff i was doing. i'm pretty textbook, but i was REALLY textbook when he was watching, i.e. using rubber dam for even the smallest occlusal cavity prep, not taking any shortcuts. i don't want this guy picking up any bad habits before he starts, know what i mean? friday was pretty busy as i'd sectioned a bridge (had to refer that one for CCL!) completed a pulpectomy on #16, final impressed a crown, completed anterior restos, and did two new patient exams, so there was plenty for him to see. he hovered over me wearing a white coat that was too big for him and holding a clipboard while taking notes. he reminded me of a USDA meat inspector, for some reason. and he followed me around everywhere, to the point i had to say, "hey, i'm going to the bathroom this time, i'll be right back, " because he followed me anytime i got up to get anything, be it a chart, an instrument, anything. anyway, yesterday was busy, but packed mostly with new patient exams and emergencies and only one extraction. so he says to me, "well, it doesn't look like you're doing too much, so maybe i won't come in tomorrow or i'll just come in to see the extraction." so i said to him, "hey, that's not true, there's a lot to learn from new patient exams, such as taking an accurate and thorough medical history, diagnosis, and most of all, patient management, seeing how we interract with people on the job. the main thing is learning to deal with patients, it's not only all about the procedures. you'll learn all that when you get to school. you don't have to answer to me, you can do whatever you want, but you may be missing out on a lot if you don't come." i think i scared him, as he was there bright and early and it was true, there was quite a bit to see, even if i wasn't "getting my hands dirty." i saw an 87 year old patient who unfortunately has to remove all her anterior teeth and add them to her partial because of endo abcesses, perio disease, and internal resorption. we saw some recall exams that were works in progress of my colleague, one of them a really great anterior implant case that was a treatment a of motorcycle trauma. overall, i think he had a really good experience, as he said he learned a lot and had a good time. it was fun having him around, and i think it made me a little more aware of the quality and thoroughness of what i was doing. and he'll be back next week, so that's a good thing. at least we didn't scare him away!

at some point i really do want to get into teaching, once i'm established and have a few more years under my belt. i think i'd be good at it and would really enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

happy independence day!!!

how it all started. i particularly get a kick out of mr. morris from new york. sounds nothing at all like the new york i know and love today.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

we celebrated canada today by heading over to nonna and nonno's house for BBQ. i made my famous hummus and fresh brownies to give MIL a break. unfortunately we missed the pyrotechnics because we had so much to to before our trip. but i heard the wonderland fireworks from my house, and that was enough for me ;-)

yesterday canuck, cookie and i went strawberry picking in stouffville. we were warned about this season's crop, as it has been very hot and dry and we were told that the berries may be smaller and the picking slower. smaller they were, but we got some really great plump red juicy ones that were absolutely fantastic and we filled up our bucket relatively quickly. i'm telling you, nothing beats fresh-picked fruit. we also went on a tractor ride, pet some sheep (because sheep and strawberries always go hand-in-hand) and cookie played at the wooden park and hay bales they had set up. it was a really terriffic day. so now i have all these strawberries on my hands, and i have that cuisinart ice cream maker that's been sitting unused since my birthday in december. how fun would it be to make some fresh strawberry ice cream to go with those awesome brownies? it came out delicious, definitely not low-calorie but you can taste the difference with home-made. i'll never have to buy again! man, between the breads, the baking, and now ice cream, my family is mega-spoiled!

tomorrow we're off to michigan to celebrate the fourth. my mom's so excited to see us she's practically hyperventillating. given the foiled terrorist plots in london over the past few days, i'm hoping it won't take too long to cross customs. my mom also asked us to get some new single malt silver label jack daniels and some tequila at the duty free shop, despite the fact that they already have half a dozen bottles of both already. what is it about border crossings that compells people to hoard alcohol? even my FIL would ask for crown royale whenever we'd fly up here back when we were living in NYC. he has like five unopened bottles in the liquor cabinet and only opens it up once in a blue moon for special occasions, and even then he only takes about a shot glass full. anyway, my mom doesn't ask us for many favors, so we'll take a quick detour to the duty free shop to pick up some booze for her and grandpa. my plan for the week is to just hang out, spend as little money and energy as possible, and watch 1776 while snacking on fresh veggies from my mom's garden. i forewarned canuck, who absolutely detests musicals (especially watching old men in tights "mincing about and singing" about the most important document in my country's history) about the screening of this AWESOME movie, which is a tradition my family partakes in every year. but he made some DVD's to watch while my mom and i sing along to all the songs and quote every line before they are spoken. man, i love that movie! well worth the eyerolls and grimaces from canuck. i don't think i'll ever get him into watching musicals. he is the only person i know that hated west side story.

happy canada day to all!!!