British Columbia·Go Public

Dentist stops practising after more lawsuits: 'I wish he'd quit 6 months ago,' former patient says

A Surrey, B.C., dentist has "voluntarily withdrawn" from practice, as lawsuits alleging he harmed patients pile up.

Dr. Steven Krieger of Surrey, B.C., now faces a dozen lawsuits following a Go Public investigation

B.C. dentist Steven Krieger now faces a dozen lawsuits from former patients. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

A Surrey, B.C., dentist has stopped practising after four more patients filed lawsuits on the heels of a Go Public investigation.

Dr. Steven Krieger, who worked at the Clover Care Dental Clinic, has "voluntarily withdrawn" registration as a dentist, according to the B.C. College of Dental Surgeons.

No one from the college would agree to an interview, but in an email said Krieger will not perform dentistry pending a public hearing before a discipline committee on allegations against him. No date has been set for that hearing.

Krieger now faces a dozen lawsuits from former patients, alleging he caused harm and unnecessary pain. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Tami Conlin says she has had sharp jaw pain since dentist Steven Krieger gave her four fillings. (Erica Johnson/CBC)

One of the latest complainants is Tami Conlin, 37, who says she's been in pain since an appointment with Krieger last May.

"When I read the Go Public article [online], I was like, 'Oh my God, what the hell? I need to read this article again and call the lawyer [mentioned]," says Conlin.

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She says that during a routine checkup Krieger told her she needed four fillings, even though she had no symptoms.

A week after the fillings, Conlin was still "in agony," so Krieger performed a root canal, but that didn't alleviate her pain.

Conlin was referred to a specialist, who couldn't detect any infection, so she's now waiting to see a neurologist to be checked for nerve damage. She has used up her dental coverage, so a tooth that needs a crown is still exposed.

"My tooth is basically dead," says Conlin. "And because of him [Krieger], I have all this pain. I wish he'd quit six months ago."

No comment from dentist

Krieger did not respond to requests for an interview about his decision to stop practising.

In statements of defence filed in several lawsuits, Krieger "denies each and every allegation," and says he treated patients with "reasonable care, skill and diligence."

Krieger's office said he was expected back at work "in the new year."

The B.C. College of Dental Surgeons has removed Krieger's name from its database, but has not made public the allegations against him.

Previously, the website said Krieger was restricted from doing root canals, but did not explain why.

The college says it is "actively considering whether registrants who have temporarily withdrawn from practice (or are on temporary leave of absence) should remain in the Registrant Lookup with a note to that effect."

Public in the dark

"There's an utter lack of information for the public," says personal injury attorney Dianna Robertson, who is representing seven of the 12 people who have filed suits against Krieger.

"How can people seek information about any concerns they have or any restrictions on his practice?" she says.

Lawyer Dianna Robertson says the B.C. Dental College needs to tell the public why dentists have restrictions. (CBC)

The college's website currently lists 13 dentists as having "practice limitations," but there are no explanations why the limitations are in place.

For instance, one dentist is not allowed to practice unless a second dentist is present.

Another dentist "must have a chaperone present" at all times when seeing patients, and that restriction must be posted in his waiting room.  

Another cannot provide root canals, crowns, bridges, veneers or implants.

Robertson wants the college to more closely mirror the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, which posts full details online when it restricts or disciplines a member.

"If the [B.C.] college sees fit to restrict a dentist's practice, they should also be making public the reason those restrictions are in place," she says.

In an email, the B.C. College of Dental Surgeons said it "pays close attention to societal trends and changes in public expectations" and that it "will continue to listen to the various viewpoints and to adjust our approach as needed to protect the public."

Website still advertised dental services

In late December, Krieger was still offering dental services on his website, which is not allowed because he's not currently practising.

His website featured a photo of him under a tab marked "Meet the Doctor" and said he "performs a wide range of services."

After Go Public contacted the B.C. College of Dental Surgeons to inquire about the website, Krieger's name and photo were removed.

While she waits for a date in court, Conlin said she will also file a complaint about Krieger with the college.

"It's too late for me," she says, "but maybe that will protect someone else."

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Erica Johnson

Investigative reporter

Erica Johnson is an award-winning investigative journalist. She hosted CBC's consumer program Marketplace for 15 years, investigating everything from dirty hospitals to fraudulent financial advisors. As co-host of the CBC news segment Go Public, Erica continues to expose wrongdoing and hold corporations and governments to account.

With files from James Roberts