‘I am giving you one hour’: Urbandale dentist fined for ‘threatening’ voicemail

By: - December 15, 2022 10:27 am

An Iowa dentist has been fined $5,000 for threatening a patient with court action over an unfavorable online review of his practice. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

A central Iowa dentist with a history of sanctions has been fined $5,000 for threatening a patient with court action over an unfavorable online review of his practice.

The Iowa Dental Board alleges that at some unspecified time in the past, someone using the screen name of Jolly Swim published an online review of the dental practice of William Skinner of Urbandale. According to the board, Skinner concluded he knew the reviewer’s true identity due to statements previously made by a particular patient.

Skinner then left a voicemail message with the patient, stating: “You know who this is, and you know what you’ve done. Um, I give you exactly one hour to remain (sic) your fake defamatory Google review posts or any other fake and disparaging comments or I am authorizing my lawyer to file a defamation of character lawsuit against you, which will cost you money for legal fees. I am giving you one hour, Jolly Swim … Get it done.”

According to the board, Skinner denied the voicemail was abusive, coercive, intimidating, harassing or threatening, but he acknowledged it could be perceived that way by others.

The patient Skinner called denies having written the online review, according to board documents.

Skinner was given a warning by the board, advising him that any future violations of the laws and rules governing the practice of dentistry may result in further disciplinary action. The board also imposed a $5,000 civil fine and ordered him to successfully complete an educational course entitled “Elevating Civility and Communication in Health Care.”

Skinner has been publicly disciplined by the board on two prior occasions.

In 2017, the board charged Skinner with failure to maintain a reasonably satisfactory standard of competence in the practice of dentistry, citing issues with three patients. In one of the cases, the board accused Skinner of failing to diagnose and make appropriate referrals to a specialist regarding a patient’s neurological injury and infection. As a result, Skinner’s license was placed on probation.

As part of his probation, Skinner was restricted from practicing in certain areas, including implant dentistry. The board later received information suggesting he was advertising the ability to perform implant procedures, despite the restriction.

In January 2019, the board denied Skinner’s request to reinstate his implant privileges.

Later in 2019, the board charged Skinner with knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue or fraudulent representations in the practice of dentistry, and with violating the terms of a recovery agreement that included a prohibition on the use of alcohol or drugs.

The board alleged Skinner had “relapsed” with regard to substance abuse, had failed to report that as required, and had falsified records to conceal his relapse.

As a result of those charges, Skinner was fined $5,000, ordered to take a course in ethics and his license was again placed on probation.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.