Viral Facebook submit sparks felony investigation into pediatric dentist

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HALIFAX —
A pediatric dentist in Nova Scotia is accused of traumatizing generations of youngsters in a case that raises questions on whether or not the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia must be allowed to self-discipline its personal members.

Following a 15-month investigation, Halifax police charged 78-year-old Errol Gaum with eight counts of assault towards eight separate sufferers relationship again to the Seventies. Dr. Gaum operated out of three clinics within the Halifax space and acquired his licence to follow in 1971. His specialty was pediatric dental care.

As alarming because the felony allegations are, they characterize only a fraction of the complaints towards the now-suspended dentist.  Almost 500 former sufferers have joined a proposed class-action lawsuit with disturbing claims that younger sufferers have been yelled at, slapped, had their nostril and mouth coated on the similar time, threatened with the removing of all their enamel, and that procedures have been carried out with out correct freezing or anesthetic.

“We’ve actually been contacted by approximately 480 individuals,” Coralie Robert, with MacGillivray Law, informed W5; “ I’ve spoken to folks in their early to mid-50s that recall these traumatic experiences from being a child. And just as recent as 2020, where we’re seeing five and six-year-olds having also gone to see Dr. Gaum.”

Dr. Gaum has refused requests for remark, however W5 has obtained his assertion of defence to the proposed class motion: “The defendant says that all times his treatment of patients has been in accordance with the professional dental treatment standards prevailing at the time the treatment was administered.”

A former dental assistant who labored with Dr. Gaum within the Nineties spoke with W5 on the situation her id not be revealed out of worry of reprisals. “Katherine” claims to have witnessed bodily and emotional abuse of youngsters within the chair; “He was a monster in the cubicle. He was Jekyll and Hyde. He was a lovely person to talk to. But when you get in that chair and that door closed, it was a different person. A completely different person,” stated “Katherine”.

The case towards Dr. Gaum started after Cape Breton father Ryan Binder posted his daughter’s expertise on Facebook in 2020. Seven-year-old Peyton claimed the dentist informed her to close up and pinched her nostril and mouth. The submit went viral with hundreds of interactions and a whole bunch of claims from individuals who alleged related experiences.

“It just blew up,” Ryan Binder informed W5: “People were messaging me. All these people were like… ‘wait, that happened to me, that happened to my kid.’ I just couldn’t believe how from the 1970s to 2020…this guy got away with this? I was just at a loss for words.”

Just one week after the viral submit, the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia held an emergency assembly and the following day suspended Dr. Gaum’s licence. But some former sufferers inform W5 that they tried to file complaints with the dental board through the years however have been ignored.

Among them, Tracy Gates, whose five-year-old son says he was spanked and informed to close up again within the mid-Nineties; “I wrote to the dental board [in 1994] and never heard back from them. But I was a single parent with minimal income. I didn’t have the resources to take it further,” she informed W5.

Tracy Gates, a former patient of Dr. GaumThe Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia refused repeated requests for particulars on what number of complaints had been made towards Dr. Gaum and over what interval. They additionally refused to answer allegations that complaints had been filed and ignored. In each situations Board Registrar Doug Mackay, by way of a public relations agency, cited the Nova Scotia Dental Act which they declare stipulates  the secrecy of all matters that have come to the Registrar.”  

The Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia says it “is aware of the public concerns about how complaints may have been managed or not managed, as the case may be, in the past. It strongly encourages anyone with a complaint or anyone who has a complaint that they feel was insufficiently addressed, to contact the PDBNS.”

Most well being professionals, together with dentists, are regulated by a university or board. Their mandate is to guard the general public and but they’re predominantly composed of members from the identical career.

Patients Canada is a non-profit group selling the rights of sufferers.Board chair Francesca Grosso says sufferers’ pursuits are usually not absolutely met when a board or school handles the complaints and self-discipline of its personal career.

“There have been a lot of instances where colleges actually are responsive. But there’s definitely a potential conflict that could be exploited and has been exploited for sure. I think that we definitely have to completely revamp the way we look at discipline. There does have to be more transparency around complaints,” Grosso informed W5.

A Facebook group known as The Victims of Dr. Errol Gaum, which has two-and-a-half thousand members, is now orchestrating a letter-writing marketing campaign to request the Nova Scotia authorities maintain an inquiry into the dental board. The letter reads, partially: “One of few ways that this decades-long gross misconduct can truly be righted is through a transparent and in-depth review of the Dental Board and all those associated with it.”  

Ryan Binder, whose Facebook submit triggered a whole bunch to talk out and led to an investigation by each Halifax police and the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia, desires change: “The only reason that this ever happened is because I put it on Facebook. The dental board is supposed to protect us. [These are] our children. How are we not protecting them?  All these complaints for years were just getting pushed aside. I want to know if the dentist that I’m going to is under investigation.”

Watch W5’s investigation “Open Wide” Saturday at 7 pm on CTV


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