Tulsa Dentist To Face Negligence, Drug Accusations

Friday, March 12th 2010, 5:18 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa dentist is being accused of being a drug addict, using patients as guinea pigs and performing procedures without permits. The State Board of Dentistry has called an emergency hearing to hear the case against Dr. William Letcher next week.

It's not the first time Dr. Letcher has been in trouble. In 1995, the board put him on two-year probation after he admitted he failed to keep track of a large number of controlled drugs, like hydrocodone and valium.

In 2000, his license was suspended for a year, and he got another four years probation. That time he was ordered to get treatment for alcohol addiction, admitted giving controlled drugs to family members and performing procedures prohibited by the state.

This time, the accusations call him negligent, incompetent and a menace to public health.

Dr. Bill Letcher has had a dental license in Oklahoma since 1976. The latest allegations cover the past year and accuse him of being addicted to drugs and using his practice to divert controlled drugs from his patients for his own personal use.

It says patients have called after surgery, saying medication is missing from their bottle.

Another allegation is that Dr. Letcher has mixed morphine and septocaine to see if the combination of pain killers works better than morphine alone, but not telling patients he's doing it - essentially making them test subjects.

Another claim is that while he's allowed to administer conscious sedation, he lets patients become unconscious - which he's not authorized to do - then leaves them alone in the room with a dental assistant.

They say he's dispensing drugs without a permit and lies when he tells patients a resin appliance is better than porcelain ones and that his patented process is superior to traditional methods.

Dr. Letcher's attorney says they just recently received the petition, and the majority of the allegations are based on statements from a disgruntled former employee. He says the doctor will answer the board's questions directly and honestly.

At next Friday's hearing, people can testify, and Dr. Letcher can respond.

The state board could find there's no truth to the claims or find there is and take action on Letcher's license. The News On 6 will report on the outcome.