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Medical and dental malpractice

Questioned documents – documents in dispute

The patient was a 70-year old Vietnamese national who had served as an officer in South Vietnam, then was imprisoned by the North after the fall of Saigon. He suffered severely during his six years of internment including deteriorization and loss of his teeth. He later relocated to the Bay Area, and finally proceeded with his dream to get his teeth fixed...


Questioned documents can involve medical or dental records. No profession is immune from fraudulent behavior. Not all medical facilities are what they seem, nor are all advertising claims valid. Medical fraud cases that scam insurance companies as well as patients themselves occur with increasing frequency.

In this case, the man did not have much money, and responded to an advertisement on Vietnamese Language Radio for mini-implants that supposedly would ensure a denture sufficient to be able to eat anything - AND they were cheap, too. The proprietor of the advertised clinic examined him and told him he could get the implants, but he would have to get a new denture and have many remaining teeth removed.

The patient did not realize until too late that not only was the proprietor not a licensed dentist, but the described procedure was not appropriate medically for a person of his advanced years. Disastrous results followed for the patient. Worse yet, when his insurance ran out, the owner told him to find another dentist.

The patient sought legal counsel and filed suit. A huge problem surfaced. The dental records did not support his story. The records showed that a licensed dentist treated him and recommended a different plan.

Document exam and testing of the originals confirmed that the dental records were altered. The original showed numerous erasures, many of which were not visible from the color copies originally provided in the case. In one instance, a second pen was used to insert a self serving entry.

This forensic document examination critically supported the patient's claim that his records had been falsified. Without this questioned document investigation and testimony, the patient would have lost his case.

Instead, he got a fraud verdict and a permanent injunction. The latter was particularly important to him because as a former soldier; he felt an obligation to protect people from this owner masquerading as a dentist whom he saw as a threat to his community.*

*Case details provided by Mary Dumont, Esq.

Document types

Documents that become in question in medical and dental malpractice are commonly:

In another, contrasting scenario ...

Scientific research demonstrated that a doctor did not alter his records.

Not every medical or dental record turns out to be forged, altered, or fabricated. Careful study and testing of the documents is critical before any presumptions are made.

For example, a doctor was accused of altering a medical record:

M. Patricia Fisher and her colleague, Dr. Leonard Chen, conducted research that ultimately proved that the questioned indentations resulted from a transference process, and not from the doctor later returning to the file to add a self-serving entry.

Dr. Chen and Ms. Fisher's research was presented at the International Association of Forensic Sciences 1999 conference in Los Angeles and was published in the Journal of Forensic Document Examination in 2001.

Need help? 30 years experience available as your resource

M. Patricia Fisher has demonstrated that she understands the complexity involved and testing necessary for the examination of medical, dental, and other health-related documents the come into question. Ms. Fisher is an excellent resource to assist attorneys and their clients by evaluating and analyzing the questioned documents in these cases.


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