Dr. Jan Kippax attends a hearing before the Maine Board of Dental Examiners in Augusta on Friday.
AUGUSTA — Catherine Clavet of Danville told a state dental panel Friday that when she went to a Lewiston oral surgeon 13 months ago, she wound up screaming in pain for half an hour or more while she tried helplessly to stop Dr. Jan Kippax from yanking more of her teeth.
Clavet, the first witness called by the state in a hearing that could decide whether Kippax will be allowed to continue to practice, said that as soon as he hooked up an intravenous tube while she sat in a dental chair, Kippax began “ripping teeth out.”
Wide awake and in terrible pain, Clavet said she “started trying to grab his hands from my mouth and started screaming.” She said she could feel Kippax “cutting, twisting, pulling teeth, grinding, stitching” and more as she swallowed blood and tried to make him halt the procedure.
But he wouldn’t, she said.
She is the first of five patients the state plans to call to the stand to back up its assertion that Kippax acted with incompetence, a lack of empathy and against professional standards – claims that Kippax strongly denies.
The dental board kicked off what promises to be a lengthy administrative hearing into charges by former patients who told dental overseers that Kippax pulled the wrong teeth, ignored their pleas for pain relief, left them bleeding without help and more.
James Bowie, an assistant attorney general, said Kippax ultimately violated one critically important guideline for medical personnel. “He seemed not to recognize his solemn obligation to do no harm,” Bowie said.
Most of the more than 180 separate complaints lodged against Kippax by the board last winter, when it suspended him for 30 days, won’t be heard for months, if ever. The initial hearing is slated to focus on charges raised by just five of the 18 patients involved.
The panel is slated to listen to witnesses Friday and Saturday, but officials said they have no expectation that even the first phase of the case will be over this weekend. Two more days for a continued hearing are already scheduled for mid-November.
Kippax’s attorney, who accused the board of bias against his client, said there’s no telling when it will all end. James Belleau of Auburn said Kippax hasn’t had a chance to defend himself and is stuck in a case of “suspended animation” as a result.
Belleau said the evidence will show the board has been “intolerably biased” against Kippax, spurred on by an executive director he accused of pursuing “a single-minded mission” to take down his client.
He said experts will testify that Kippax acted properly. He also denied that Kippax or his staff had ever improperly kept patients in the chair who asked for the oral surgeon to stop.
Kippax’s attorneys distributed three thick binders full of paperwork to each of the five board members hearing the case. Attorneys for the state handed out one of their own as well.
Panel members, who are volunteers, each said Friday they hold no bias against Kippax. But Belleau said he is “not satisfied” that’s true.
This story will be updated.
Maine Board of Dental Practice member Glen Davis listens to opening statements involving Dr. Jan Kippax in Augusta on Friday.
Dr. Jan Kippax, left, and his attorney Adam Lee attend a hearing before the Maine Board of Dental Examiners in Augusta on Friday.
Dr. Jan Kippax talks with his attorneys James Belleau and Adam Lee, far right, during a hearing before the Maine Board of Dental Examiners in Augusta on Friday.
Dr. Jan Kippax, members of the Maine Board of Dental Examiners and members of the Office of the Maine Attorney General hold a hearing in Augusta on Friday.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Bolton presents the State of Maine’s case against Dr. Jan Kippax during a hearing before the Maine Board of Dental Examiners in Augusta on Friday.
Dr. Jan Kippax’s attorneys Adam Lee, left center, and James Belleau discuss an issue during a hearing before the Maine Board of Dental Examiners in Augusta on Friday.
Mark Terison is the hearing officer overseeing the case involving Dr. Jan Kippax.
Maine Board of Dental Practice member Kathryn Young listens to opening statements involving Dr. Jan Kippax in Augusta on Friday.