Smyrna dentist must hand over patient records

DOVER — A suspended Smyrna dentist must provide all medical records of 14 children who allegedly received treatment from untrained staff, leading to criminal charges against her and a suspended license last year.

Defendant Dr. Grace Liu contested a Delaware Department of Justice subpoena connected to non-certified dental assistants who supposedly administered nitrous oxide to children under her care.

She was charged with 14 counts of endangering the welfare of a child in 2017, among other allegations.

In a six-page order Tuesday, Kent County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clark found the prosecution’s request reasonable in its specificity and time frame.

Since most of the minors involved are less than 10 years old, Judge Clark said “the ages of the patients at issue self-limit the length of the treatment records requested.”

While the judge offered no opinion on whether evidence of prior nitrous oxide administration is admissible at trial, “it may very well be” after analysis.

Thus, “it is not unreasonable under the circumstances of this case for the State to request the entire medical files of these limited number of patients.”

In early December 2017, Dr. Liu’s dental license was suspended for 60 days by Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock and the state Board of Dentistry and Dental Hygiene. She has offices at Smile Place in Smyrna and All About Smiles in Wilmington.

Dr. Liu is also charged with health care fraud for alleged fraudulent Medicaid billing and non-compliance with bond conditions, the order indicated.
Authorities alleged that unprofessional conduct took place in March, August and September of 2017.

According to the order, Dr. Liu argued that the subpoena “is overbroad, and seeks material outside what would be a reasonable length of time.”

Dr. Liu has signed an agreement with Medicaid which she agreed to make available such records if requested by the Delaware Medicaid Assistance Program and, “[a]ll records shall be made available at once and without notice to authorized …”

However, according to Judge Clark, “[w]hile the Court appreciates Dr. Liu’s argument that the agreement is contractual and should not impact the Court’s analysis regarding this criminal subpoena, the nature of the agreement nevertheless has overlapping relevance to the degree of privacy expected by Dr. Liu and her practice …”

The state argued that complete files of “prior medical history, billing information and the full records may reveal the surrounding circumstances of the allegedly improper use of nitrous oxide,” the judge pointed out.

The Secretary of State referenced Dr. Liu’s arrest on Nov. 22, 2017 for allegedly directing an unlicensed person to administer nitrous oxide to a child on Nov. 6.

A felony violation of bond condition charge resulted connected to conditions set during her arrest on Sept. 29.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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