Investigator Exclusive: Elderly dentist says age not a factor in teen death

3:57 PM, Feb 8, 2011   |    comments
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This wasn't the first time a dental patient died under Dr. Mazorow's care. Rosemary Johnson, 57, died in 1997 while having six of her teeth removed.

Court records show Mazorow settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $550,000.

So, some might be asking if an 81-year-old dentist should still be practicing. After all, commercial pilots must retire at age 60. Ohio judges can't seek re-election past 70. State troopers must step down at age 60. And Cleveland firefighters and police must retire at 65.   

"There is no correlation between standard of care violations and the age of the dentist involved," Lili Reitz, the director of the Ohio Dental Board, argued.

Channel 3 News reviewed the disciplinary actions taken against Ohio dentists in the past 5 years. Nearly two-thirds, or 66 per cent of those cited for violating minimal standards of care, were between the ages of 50 and 81.

Dr. Matthew Messina, of Fairview Park, has been a practicing dentist for 23 years and he writes a regular column for the Ohio Dental Association. "It's not an age-dependent issue as much as it's a competency issue," Messina said.

To remain licensed in Ohio, dentists must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Susan Axelord has been working with the elderly for 28 years. "Why do we assume because one dentist has a problem at age 70, that all dentists are going to have a problem? People age at different rates," Axelrod said.

Dr. Mazorow has agreed to stop seeing patients for the time being. The state says he's licensed to administer the type of anesthesia that Marissa Kingery received.

It's not clear why the dental board didn't take any action against Mazorow back in 1997. The board disposes of records after 10 years.

But Reitz says age simply isn't an issue with any investigation of alleged negligence or improper care. "It doesn't matter if the dentist is 25, 45, or 85, we'll look at that case the same way," Reitz said.

Mazorow declined to discuss the Kingery case, but when asked if his age played any factor into what went wrong, he said "absolutely not."

The county coroner's investigation is still weeks away from being completed. The dental board is also still investigating.

WKYC-TV

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