9 Investigates

9 Investigates: Dentist accused of abusing patients opens practice in Clermont

CLERMONT, Fla. — 9 Investigates uncovered a dentist accused of badly injuring and nearly killing a patient in his care is still practicing after opening Gulfstream Dental off Highway 50 in Clermont. His medical license--previously suspended--has been reinstated.

Michael Tarver is also under criminal investigation for Medicaid fraud. And though a website for the dental office claims Tarver accepts Medicaid, a claim Tarver echoed during a phone conversation Friday, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said it had no record of Tarver’s latest business venture in its Medicaid database.

Recordings obtained by Eyewitness News show Tarver admitted under oath in 2013 that he was racing through appointments with children to make a profit from Medicaid.

Documents from the Florida Department of Health show Tarver was accused at the time of having a little girl go into respiratory arrest while under anesthesia one day at an office in Ocala.

“[Staff members realized the girl] had stopped breathing and turned blue,” an investigator noted, going on to say “Dr. Tarver instructed Polliwog staff members to make no mention of the incident [and] no one informed [the girl’s] parents that [she] had stopped breathing and been resuscitated.”

Tarver’s latest problem started at a building that is now under new ownership in Clermont. Just over a year ago, he and his wife were still working in Ocala when there was a raid connected to alleged Medicaid fraud. Tarver told Channel 9 it was the result of a disgruntled employee. He said it's something he and his family are wanting to get past.

The Florida Board of Dentistry lit into Tarver during a hearing centered on whether board members would accept a settlement in the alleged abuse case. The board members claimed Tarver sacrificed safety for a profit by seeing large numbers of patients each day and neglecting to spend adequate time with many of them.

Tarver has never has been charged criminally.