The N.C. State Dental Board of Examiners ruled last week that a Wake County oral surgeon should not be allowed to practice dentistry in North Carolina after “contributing or causing the death” of one of his patients in 2014.
The board, in a discipline order signed July 28, revoked the dental license of John S. Won, an oral surgeon who works primarily in Cary.
Won, who was licensed to practice dentistry in this state in 2001, also has a medical license in North Carolina that remains active.
According to the dental board order, Won failed to do an adequate examination or provide adequate care to a man who came to his office on Feb. 23, 2010, to have teeth pulled. The man died within 48 hours of the surgery.
The board also found that Won’s office had wrongfully billed Medicaid – but acknowledged that he had reached a $2.2 million reimbursement settlement with the government.
Won, through his attorneys, disputes the dental board’s finding.
“By all accounts, Dr. Won is an extraordinarily talented oral surgeon,” said Elliot Abrams, a Raleigh attorney representing him. “He strongly disputes the finding of the Dental Board that he knowingly violated rules or violated standards of care. In our opinion, the Dental Board’s finding is an outlier, which we believe will be overturned by the courts.”
Abrams, in his statement, acknowledged that both the state Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney’s office conducted “a comprehensive investigation” of the same allegations. But Abrams stated that they “found no intentional wrongdoing” and “saw fit to allow him to practice under the supervision of a corporate compliance agreement that ensures that he will be able to continue providing desperately needed oral surgery services to underserved areas.”
On the day Dr. John S. Won pulled the teeth of the man who later died, Won had nine surgeries scheduled before the man’s 10 a.m. appointment. He had six other surgeries and several consultations that same day between 10 a.m. and noon.
On the day Won pulled the teeth of the man who later died, Won had nine surgeries scheduled before the man’s 10 a.m. appointment. He had six other surgeries and several consultations that same day between 10 a.m. and noon.
The dental board found that Won failed to follow standard dental practice rules and leave adequate time between appointments to assess his patients. Such a schedule, the board found, limited the care he could offer before and after surgery.
Some of his records showed that after he completed a surgery, he began administering anesthesia on another patient one to two minutes later.
In the case of the man who died, the family called Won’s office shortly after the surgery to let workers there know that the patient had vomited up a substance the color of “coffee-grounds” believed to be “swallowed blood.”
Within 48 hours of having his teeth pulled, the man, who was identified only by a first name and an initial in the order, went into cardiac arrest. Doctors who responded to his emergency noted that he had lost a significant amount of blood related to the dental procedure.
The board also found that Won fraudulently filed Medicaid claims for scans, surgeries and other procedures and drugs not administered. Won, who has reimbursed Medicaid for nearly half of the overbillings, according to his attorney, argued at the dental board hearing that an office worker had erroneously submitted the claims.
The dental board noted that argument in its ruling, but concluded in an order signed by William M. Litaker, the presiding officer for the state board, that Won’s “misconduct involved such serious, numerous violations of the Dental Practice Act and the rules of ethics governing professionals that revocation is the only discipline sufficient to protect the public.”