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Rejected in the US, accepted in Ja - Dentist banned from practising in America sets up shop in St Ann

Published:Friday | October 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Stephen M. Kaufman entering his dental office in Runaway Bay, St Ann.
A sign leading to the office of dentist Stephen M. Kaufman, in Runaway Bay, St Ann.

An American dentist, whose licence to practise was revoked in the United States after at least three incidents, has set up shop in Jamaica sparking concerns in local medical circles.

Stephen M. Kaufman, was in October of last year, arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and violation of implied consent in Ashland City, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Board of Dentistry subsequently revoked his licence, having previously issued an emergency order to suspend it.

The Board's order stated that Kaufman admitted to being an alcoholic and while he had obtained an evaluation, he had not entered into treatment and continued to drink.


Extracted child's tooth at party


This was not the first time that Kaufman had run afoul of the Tennessee Board of Dentistry. In October 2003, he allegedly extracted a tooth from an 11-year-old child at a Halloween party without the consent of the child's parents.

In a second case in June 2007, he was disciplined for performing a procedure on a patient and failing to document that he had proper permission to perform it.

Since his last run in with the authorities in Tennessee, Kaufman has relocated to Runaway Bay, St Ann, where he is currently practising.

When our news team visited Kaufman's office last week, he arrived just after 11 a.m. dressed in a shorts and a dirty looking white T-shirt before changing into a black overall. He reeked of alcohol but denied that he had been drinking.

While refusing to consent to an interview Kaufman told our news team that he has a Jamaican work permit and is here legally.

"I am legal here. Heck! I donated a $40,000 piece of equipment to the dental school," said Kaufman.

When pressed, Kaufman said he has had a licence to operate in Jamaica since 2013. He claimed that the only reason his licence lapsed in the States was because he chose to move to Jamaica and wasn't following through with a probationary period for five years which he had been offered.

When asked about the charges that he faced in the United Sates, Kaufman claimed the DUI was his only breach and that is not an issue locally.

"I ended up with one charge; driving under the influence. It is the only charge that I ended up with. That's the only legal charge that I ever faced, and I am not breaking any laws here because I am not driving. I walk and I ride taxis."

Kaufman's Runaway Bay office does not have his name or any form of certificate on display, even though he insisted that he has paid for and received a local practising certificate.

When our news team requested to see the certificate, he said he did not know where it was, as the medical doctor who he shares the office space with had it and was not in as yet.

"I haven't had any sort of problems with anybody here and I have done nothing but serve the public," said Kaufman.

When contacted, recently appointed chairman of the Dental Council of Jamaica, Dr Winston Grey, refused to say much on the matter of Kaufman practising here.

According to Grey, "the Council is acutely aware of it and are taking steps to deal with it."

But checks by The Sunday Gleaner have revealed that unless the Dental Council of Jamaica puts new policies in place, there is not much action it can take against persons who are licensed and qualified dentist, but may not be fit and proper to practise dentistry.

The Council does not have the power to move against persons who are convicted of offences that question their judgement such as driving under the influence of alcohol.