I know that cost cutting is all the rage, but using a paper clip for a dental post?
Few business practices seem more important these days than squeezing out costs.
Not that I don’t believe in fat-trimming.
Nosiree! I don’t want to pay one penny more than it takes for someone to make living wage, under safe conditions, producing something of reasonable, you-get-what-you-pay for quality.
But cost cutting can be perplexing.
On the one hand, we find ourselves witnessing race to the bottom wage and cost structures to such an extent that pretty soon the average non-elite American worker will be laboring for a buck an hour – and kissing his master’s cuffs in gratitude for the work. Of course, since he’ll be working 90 hours a week, he’ll make some of it up in volume. Which would, I guess, be okay if the cost of a flat-screen TV comes down to about $20. But I guess that won’t happen if the
rapacious corporate profiteers deserving corporate shareholders and executives are going to get their fair share of the loot they’ve earned by pushing costs down…
But there’s cost cutting, and then there’s cost cutting, as we see from the case of a Massachusetts dentist, Michael Clair, who’s been sentenced to jail:
…after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his use of paper clips rather than stainless steel posts during root canals, according to the attorney general. (Source: boston.com)
Man, and I thought Wang Labs as bad when they started unscrewing every other light bulb.
“The defendant physically and emotionally harmed his patients by taking advantage of the trust they placed in him as their dentist,” [Massachusetts AG Martha] Coakley said in a statement.
The thought of a dentist unbending a paper clip and embedding it in my jaw…Well, let’s just say that I would prefer not to have Laurence Olivier’s Marathon Man dentist anywhere near my mouth. Or Michael Clair, for that matter, assuming he’ll still be licensed to fill when he’s released from the hoosegow.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful dentist, who would not in a million years unbend a paper clip and use it in lieu of a stainless steel post. (How wonderful is my dentist? He’s so wonderful, that he’s brought his wonderful young dentist son into his practice, so I’m set for dental life. But wait, there’s more. The wonderful young dentist son’s wonderful young doctor wife is my primary care physician, so I’m set for medical life, too. The things you have to worry about as geezer-hood sets in…)
Now, the cost of a stainless steel dental post is not all that great. A little sleuthing suggests that they might go for $10-$15 per. And I’ll bet you can get them even cheaper on Alibaba. I just wasn’t willing to chat it up with Mr. Renhua Hu over there in order to find out.
Also, given the slipshod quality that is sometimes associated with Chinese manufacture, it may well be that you can get dental posts that are made out of paper clips. But Michael Clair apparently crafted his own.
In any case, we do know that, whatever a bona fide dental post costs, it’s likely more than what a paper clip from Staples will run you.
Unlike some cost cutters, Dr. Clair didn’t pass the savings on to his customers. Or to the state’s Medicaid program, which he’s accused of bilking, having charged for a steel post while providing a paper clip:
“Mr. Clair brazenly cheated the Medicaid program and defrauded taxpayer dollars, billing for health care services he did not provide.”
Clair bad-billed Massachusetts Medicaid for $130K over a two-year period.
Thanks, pal! The citizens of the Commonwealth salute you.
In case you’re wondering why substituting a paper clip for a dental post is such bad medicine, the International Business Times has an answer for you:
Dr. Robert Gold who practices dentistry in Croton-On-Hudson, New York stated that the primary risk in using a paper clip during a root canal is that it is soft and bendable. "Normal materials would be titanium and cast gold. It [the paper clip] is so weak that it would fracture," said Dr. Gold. The dental work on top will fail."
Dr. Gold went on to say that as the paper clip weakens and bends it would allow food and other bacteria inside which would cause infection. An infection would ultimately lead to the loss of the tooth.
Talk about for want of a nail…
Meanwhile, I wonder if they’ll let Michael Clair practice on his fellow inmates.