State completes hearing on whether dentist will keep license

State completes hearing on whether Morristown dentist will keep license

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Dr. Paul Muscari Dr. Paul Muscari

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Reporter

MORRISTOWN (WATE) - A hearing to determine whether Morristown dentist Dr. Paul Muscari will keep his license was completed Thursday. It's been delayed three times previously.

Muscari appeared before an administrative judge on 18 civil charges following a three year state Department of Health investigation.

The state claims Dr. Muscari acted in an unprofessional, dishonorable, or unethical manner and that there was a pattern of malpractice, negligence, or incompetence.

Seven of Dr. Muscari's patients who contacted 6 News more than three years ago were at the hearing on Wednesday.

Several allegations against Muscari have to do with patient care and financial statements to a third party credit company named Care Credit.

Kim Johnson is a former patient of Dr. Muscari. She filled out paperwork with Care Credit for possible bridge work in January 2006.

Kim says the work was never done, but she was billed $6,550. Dr. Muscari told Care Credit he finished the work for Kim.

After Kim contacted Dr. Muscari's office about the mistake and talked with office manager Nancy Muscari, she disputed the charge under the Fair Credit Billing Act.

Andy Jarvey showed 6 On Your Side his unfinished dental work in January 2007.  His wife, Amanda, also a patient of Dr. Muscari, said her dental care was never completed either.

The couple paid $19,000 to Dr. Muscari through Care Credit.

On the phone from his current home in Wisconsin, Jarvey told Dr. Muscari's attorney the crowns he paid for were never put in his mouth. He also said Dr. Muscari repeatedly told him they were at the lab and not ready.

Jarvey said at times he smelled alcohol on Dr. Muscari's breath.

Another patient, Mary Lynn Potter, showed 6 On Your Side bridgework fitted by a second dentist in fall 2007. A year earlier, Dr. Muscari was paid to prepare Mary Lynn's new bridge, but never finished it.

The bill of $7,648 for Muscari's work was charged to Care Credit.

Former patient Polly Booth also gave damaging testimony. She paid Dr. Muscari more than $6,000 in 2006 for extensive dental work.

"It was like a living nightmare. No one getting their teeth done should have to live that way, nobody," Booth told the court.

Other former patients also contacted 6 On Your Side. We encouraged them to write to the state dental board. We also sent copies of our reports to Care Credit.

By fall 2007, Care Credit erased the balance of bills for six customers.

Dr. Muscari's attorney defended his client in Wednesday's hearing, claiming most of the disputes were over fees.

Muscari testified that he did nothing wrong and the whole dispute was over money.

Former patient Francis Payne told the court Thursday that Dr. Muscari acted unprofessionally. "When he would work on me, he did not have a mask on and I didn't like the idea of how he picked up stuff off the floor and then stuck them in my mouth and I had no control to stop him," she testified.

The 6 News camera was kicked out of the courtroom at one point Thursday. The judge later apologized.

Dr. Muscari's attorney called me to the stand as a witness, but I refused to testify citing Tennessee's shield law for reporters.

Muscari's attorney proceeded with a series of questions claiming I was tampering with witnesses. However, the witnesses insisted that they contacted me with their complaints.

The judge admonished Dr. Muscari's attorney for misleading the court.

The administrative judge could take several weeks or possibly months to decide on any causes of action or civil penalties against Dr. Muscari.

The state dental board will meet in late January to make a final decision.

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