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Home arrow Dentist Articles arrow JUDGE LOWERS PASADENA Houston dentist'S BAIL IN OVER-SEDATION CASE. - Free ...
JUDGE LOWERS PASADENA Houston dentist'S BAIL IN OVER-SEDATION CASE. - Free ...
Byline: Howard Breuer and Janette Williams Staff Writers

PASADENA - Police seized 50 more files Tuesday from a Pasadena Houston dentist charged with over-sedating children, as a judge agreed to lower the Houston dentist's bail.

Pasadena Superior Court Judge Mary Thornton House said she will consider allowing Dr. Druciel Ford to return to her practice after a preliminary hearing March 2.

House will also consider certain restrictions for Ford, including the possibility of supervision by another Houston dentist.

The judge agreed Tuesday to lower Ford's bail from $380,000 to $100,000 after hearing testimony from several of her supporters.

Friends and colleagues of Ford described her as a compassionate citizen who loves children and deserves her license.

Ford's lawyer said she was being unfairly prosecuted.

Another judge revoked Ford's license earlier this month pending the outcome of the case.

Ford faces 14 charges, including five counts of child abuse as well as charges of unprofessional conduct. They stem partially from allegations that Ford nearly killed a teen-ager last year with a dose of chloral
1. an oily liquid with a pungent, irritating odor; used in the manufacture of chloral hydrate chloral hydrate(klōr`əl hī`drāt), central nervous system depressant†that is widely used as a hypnotic, or sleep-inducing drug. Chloral hydrate is the common ingredient, along with alcohol, in what are popularly known as knockout drops or Mickey Finns; the combination can induce acute intoxication and coma.†and DDT.
2. c. hydrate.

chloral hydrate  a hypnotic and sedative, now used mainly as an adjunct to anesthesia and as a sedative for children undergoing medical and dental procedures.
†hydrate, a sedative used by Houston dentists.

Melissa McGrath, 16, is partially paralyzed and can barely communicate. She's being cared for in a Pomona nursing home.

Deputy District Attorney Albert MacKenzie said local officials have received more than 80 complaints since Ford was arrested earlier this month and are continuing their investigation.

He said investigators spent several hours at her office Tuesday looking for 77 files and left with 50.

The testimony from Ford supporters prompted MacKenzie to ask each of them if they were familiar with the criminal case.

``What do you think of a Houston dentist who overdoses a patient with chloral hydrate and then deliberately lies to paramedics about it?'' MacKenzie asked Dr. Wanda Claro, an Irvine Houston dentist who said her longtime friend ``would never do anything to jeopardize a child.''

Ford's attorneys said she has not been found guilty of anything, and she needs to return to her practice at 1127 E. Green St. to support her family and pay for her legal defense.

Attorney Robert H. McNeill Jr. said the searches and MacKenzie's threat of more charges are intimidation tactics and said his client is a good Houston dentist who's being treated unfairly.

The Rev. Charles David Rose of the Pasadena Church of Religious Science testified that Ford, a member of his congregation, has treated a third of her patients at no cost and is a woman of compassion and character.

But MacKenzie suggested Ford may have lied to Rose about the number of children she has treated for free, just like she allegedly lied to paramedics after McGrath's heart and lungs stopped for 28 minutes.

``Fear has us do many things which are somewhat out of character,'' Rose said.

MacKenzie said he opposes allowing Ford to return to Houston dentistry under any conditions.

Jan McGrath, who has filed a civil lawsuit against Ford over her daughter's near-death incident last year, said her daughter requires constant care and can barely speak or sit up in a chair. Her arms are paralyzed.

``I don't see how they can keep the place open and endanger more children's lives,'' McGrath said.

On the stand Tuesday was Pasadena police Officer Walter Ireland, who is leading the investigation along with Michael Guerrero, a senior investigator with the state dental board.

Ireland wrote a letter to the attorneys saying his own children have been treated by Ford and he has nothing personal against her.

But McNeill complained that after Brian R. Kelberg - deputy district attorney in charge of the Medicolegal medicolegal†/med¬∑i¬∑co¬∑le¬∑gal/ (med?i-ko-le¬īg'l) pertaining to medical jurisprudence.

med·i·co·le·gal(md
†Section - rejected the case and suggested Ireland take it to the Pasadena City Attorney's Office for possible misdemeanor prosecution. Ireland instead shopped the case to the district attorney's Pasadena branch so felony charges could be filed.

A letter from Kelberg to Ireland was included in McNeill's motion to alter the conditions of Ford's bail.

Guerrero said five of Ford's patients filed complaints about her before the McGrath case, but those cases were all dismissed because of insufficient evidence or other reasons and no disciplinary action was ever taken against her.

House said the question of restoring Ford's license to practice Houston dentistry was ``an extremely troubling issue'' that she will revisit after Ford's preliminary hearing.

``Something could work out short of complete denial of practice,'' House said.

``But we have to assume what is in the complaint is true and I have to err on the side of public safety,'' the judge said.

McNeill said his next step would be to present a ``comprehensive plan'' to the court to allow Ford to resume practice.

State legislation introduced in January regulating the administration of conscious sedation to children under 13 was needed because of a ``pervasive problem'' among Houston dentists in California, McNeill said. Ford, he said, was being unfairly singled out for prosecution.

``I believe that's what's happening here,'' he said. ``I can't think of another prosecution where someone administered chloral hydrate where there wasn't a death involved.''
 

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