TROUP COUNTY, Ga. - A LaGrange dentist at the center of patient and ex-employee complaints threatened a Channel 2 Action News reporter when she questioned him about the problems Monday.
Dr. James Tyrer operates Greenwood Family Dentistry. This week, patients came to Channel 2 complaining that Tyrer owed them money for surgeries that have not been performed, and that he has been missing scheduled appointments for months.
On Monday afternoon, scheduled patients waited outside of the office because the doors were locked and the staff that had been covering for Tyrer was not there.
About an hour after the story aired, Tyrer called Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr, responding to messages left at his office and home.
When Carr returned a voicemail, the conversation began with Tyrer explaining several business and personal matters.
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“Yes, ma'am,” Tyrer said after Carr explained the patient complaints. “I've had uh, I've had some staff quit. I've had some staff I had to fire because they were stealing."
When Carr asked him to clarify that accusation against employees, he told her it was none of her concern.
"It's personal stuff, you know,” he said describing his issues. “And anybody that's owed any money will get their money."
Tyrer added he’d been in court Monday on a personal matter, but when Carr asked him about patients not receiving any notification, and complaining about longstanding issues, the tone changed.
He stressed that he was good to his patients.
Dr. James Tyrer: And so I don't know why you guys want to make a story out of me.
Nicole Carr: Well, no it's not us. I'm saying the patients came to us after they couldn't...
Tyrer: These are accusations. Alleged accusations.
Carr: Well, you weren't there today and people were scheduled for appointments and hadn't heard anything and so that's what--
Tyrer: So? Do you ever not show up for work some days?
Carr: Did you just say 'So?'
Carr: You just said 'So?'
Tyrer: I said, do you ever not show up for work some days?
Carr: Yes, and I call in. I don't see patients.
Tyrer: I don't have anybody up there to call and reschedule. My hands are kind of tied behind my back. I'm doing the best I can with what I have.
Tyrer went on to say Carr wasn’t smart, falsely claimed she was violating HIPPA by talking to the patients, and told her he was also recording the conversation.
He said he wasn’t dealing with her, and what was going on with the patients or him was none of her concern.
Tyrer:You get the hell out of my life or there are going to be consequences.
Carr: Are you threatening me? Are you threatening me?
Tyrer: I'm not threatening you. I'm telling you.
Carr: OK. OK. You do what you have to do, Dr. Tyrer.
MORE PATIENTS COMING FORWARD WITH COMPLAINTS
While Carr was on the phone with Tyrer, more of his patients were calling into Channel 2 Action News.
Pauline Bergeon is 85 years old. In 2017, she says Tyrer performed a denture procedure on her that led to pain. Another dentist recently confirmed she’d had crooked temporary teeth put in her mouth, instead of permanent dentures.
Bergeron told Carr she’d unsuccessfully tried to get a refund for months, while Tyrer promised permanent teeth were on the way.
"Eighteen hundred dollars for what?” she asked.“I said, 'I don’t think so. You’re not fooling me.' So that’s the way it was. My teeth never come in. Never come.”
Bergeron and others who came to Channel 2 say they’ll contact the state dental board to file complaints.
The board could not tell Carr whether Tyrer had been the subject of any other recent complaints, citing state law tied to investigation privacy.
They confirmed 389 complaints had been filed against dentists statewide in 2018.
Only public action notices are attached to dentists’ online licensure records, although the website notes that even if a copy is not posted, there could have been action taken.
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