Closure of 2 Signature Smiles dental offices in Houston area leaves dozens of patients in limbo
HOUSTON – Two Signature Smiles dental offices have shut down. The Houston-area dental group is the latest to close offices without notifying patients.
The closures left dozens of former patients in dental limbo, Nikki Robinson said.
Robinson’s son was a Signature Smiles patient for more than two years at the Humble location. According to Robinson, she is now out $4,800 after she paid for his dental work and braces upfront.
“All of a sudden doors shut,” Robinson said. “No answers, no calls returned. I’ve even emailed them, haven’t gotten a response from anyone.”
Two days before the Humble location closed, Robinson said she received a text message stating the office was closing and merging with their Garden Oaks, Heights and The Woodlands offices.
The Garden Oaks and Heights office shut down in January.
A piece of paper taped on the inside the office instructs patients to contact The Woodlands office in case of emergency or with help retrieving their dental records.
“We have been calling that office continuously, and no answer,” Robinson said. “Someone finally reached them and the response was given to them that they don’t have access to any of our records.”
Robinson filed an official complaint with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE). She said the agency responded by telling her they are looking into her claims and have 60 days to investigate.
Attorney David Tang has been in contact with several former Signature Smiles patients. He also represents a former employee, Dr. Kathy Nguyen. Nguyen is suing the head of signature smiles, Dr. Terry Lee.
“If Terry Lee and his clinics and his partners would have done at a minimum what’s required of a doctor to maintain accurate records, to be honest, we wouldn’t be here,” Tang said.
According to Tang, Lee closed the offices to cover up a larger issue.
“Signature Smiles took the extreme step of closing down when they didn’t have to, to avoid turning over records to Dr. Nguyen that there was this massive fraudulent billing going on,” Tang said.
The issue, according to Tang, revolves around Nguyen’s dental national provider identifier number.
“Dr. Lee billed out for work that he did, under Dr. Kathy Nguyen’s number and collected the money,” Tang said.
According to documents from TSBDE, Lee had a prior complaint.
“There were allegations made against him for failing to keep proper records,” Tang said. “He entered into some kind of agreement with the Texas dental examiners and eventually I guess they let him practice again.”
As part of the 2018 TSBDE non-disciplinary remedial plan, Lee was required to complete continuing education courses, pay a $500 fine and pass the Jurisprudence Assessment.
A Facebook group has been formed by former Signature Smiles patients and customers.
Multiple attempts at contacting Lee went unanswered.
Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.