Arizona dentists warned by dental board; Patients left with no explanation

Arizona’s dental board is continuing to go easy on dentists and keep important information from the public, according to patients and attorneys involved in a pair of recent cases.

In an August meeting, the Board of Dental Examiners issued letters of concern to two dentists: Dr. Minseok Kang and Dr. Peter Spanganberg.

READ THE LETTERS

A letter of concern is the lowest level of board action.

The letters often contain vague language, giving the public little or no information about the circumstances of the cases.

ABC15 spoke to patients and attorneys involved in the complaints against Kang and Spanganberg. Below, we’ve included copies of the board’s letters and details about the case.

Complaint against Dr. Kang

In the board’s letter about Dr. Kang, it says: “Dr. Kang should ensure appropriate communication between the front office and himself.”

That’s all the information available to the public about this case on the board’s website.

It doesn’t say anything about what happened to the 11-year-old girl he treated.

ABC15 obtained audio from a recent board hearing involving the case. At the hearing, the girl’s attorney, Craigg Voightmann, spoke before the board.

Voightman said Dr. Kang wanted to do a tongue surgery on the girl to correct a speech impairment. The girl’s mother “expressly declined” and said no one else has ever diagnosed her with any issues.

At a later visit, Voightmann said Dr. Kang decided to perform the surgery anyway, restrained the girl and cut below her tongue.

Here’s a clip of Voightmann’s statement. It begins at 12:00.  

Voigtmann said the girl’s mother hoped the board would investigate the case further and issue stronger disciplinary action. The board did not.

Dr. Kang did not respond to requests for comment.

Complaint against Dr. Spanganberg

In the board’s letter about Dr. Spanganberg, it says: “Dr. Spanganberg should have standards in place to insure (SIC) that the treatment planned is the treatment performed.”

ABC15 spoke to the patient, who asked not to be identified, and her attorney.

The patient said Dr. Spanganberg was supposed to remove her bottom teeth and a few top teeth. However, he extracted all of her teeth.

During surgery and after he realized the mistake, he also placed permanent implants in the patient’s mouth without her consent, the patient said.

An attorney for Dr. Spanganberg told ABC15 because of patient and Dental Board confidentiality, he would not comment on the case.

Previous issues with AZ Dental Board

Earlier this year, an ABC15 investigation uncovered the dental board going easy on dentists and classifying the majority of its actions as “non-disciplinary actions.”

IS IT “GOOD NEWS” MOST BOARD ACTIONS ARE HIDDEN FROM THE PUBLIC?

Letters of concern are considered non-disciplinary actions.

Non-disciplinary actions were not required to be posted on the board’s website for the public to see even though they total 70 percent of the board’s actions.

Lawmakers passed a new bill after ABC15’s reports requiring all board actions to be posted.  

Arizona dental board Executive Director Elaine Hugunin sent the following statement about the cases:

“As you are aware, the Board makes decisions after reviewing all information associated with each complaint, which includes information provided by the investigator, complainant, as well as the licensee.  With respect to the specific cases that you are referencing, I cannot comment on anything beyond what is contained in the Letters of Concern, as those were Board decisions.  Per state statute, the investigative files are confidential.”

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

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