State responds to slow investigation criticism

State responds to slow investigation criticism
Published: Mar. 28, 2014 at 6:06 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Curtis Wagasky's grave marker doesn't tell the whole story. The homeless, disabled Army veteran died December 21, 2012 after complications from having one tooth pulled by Dr. John Stover. That was 15 months ago.

So why do the investigations seem to take so long?

"You know investigations are really very, it's a fluid fluid process," said Daria Loy-Goto, State Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO), Complaints and Enforcement Officer.

Loy-Goto agreed to do an interview, but would not answer specific questions about Dr. Stover.

In general someone could be terrible at their job, but that doesn't mean the State can revoke their license. There must be "hazardous negligence."

"The burden the state has is trying to determine whether we have sufficient information to pursue possible legal action," said Loy-Goto.

There is no timeline for investigations. They could go on forever.

"We really try to move cases as quickly as we can, but we never want them to feel rushed that they don't do as much as they possibly can to get the information they need," said Loy-Goto.

Last year there were 1,028 formal complaints and many more inquiries in Hawaii. That's not just doctors and dentists, but other licensees like accountants, barbers, electricians, contractors and more. The majority of complaints didn't have any punishment.

As for caseloads on average the 20 inspectors in the state worked on 51 cases last year. They aren't using understaffing as an excuse. They also aren't focused on state liability if more people get hurt while an investigation is going on.

"You know what we are responding to and taking actions where appropriate so I am very comfortable with the work our office does," said Loy-Goto.

Curtis Wagasky's death is opening eyes. Time will tell if it brings punishment when the case is closed.

Witnesses and employee testimony is key for investigators. Also the more complaints filed against a person helps them identify trends. If you want to file a complaint with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and the Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) start by calling 808-587-4272 or go to

Related Links:

Four complaints follow doctor involved in dental tragedy on Hilo

Follow Tim Sakahara:   

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.