Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists all contribute to keeping up Californians' oral health and preserving or restoring healthy teeth and gums. From regular bi-annual check-ups and tooth cleanings to treating periodontal disease, installing titanium dental implants, or straightening misaligned teeth with Invisalign® or traditional braces, we all count on those in the dental profession to be there when we need them most — and especially during a dental emergency that requires immediate care.
But it takes years of intense training and diligent study to enter dentistry. And the Dental Board of California puts applicants for a dental license through a rigorous and expensive process to ensure only qualified candidates will be caring for our state's dental patients. Yet, it takes only a single complaint or a single mistake to put your hard-earned dental license at risk of being suspended or revoked.
We at California License Attorney understand the situation dentists in California are in when a challenge to their license threatens to negatively impact or even end their careers. And we also understand the laws and regulations and the administrative process governing how such complaints are handled. We have helped many dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists get past a legal challenge and continue their practice in the past, and we stand ready to intervene on your behalf as well.
To learn more or to avail yourself of a free, no-obligation consultation with an expert license defense attorney, contact us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068.
The Crucial but Demanding Roles of Modern Dental Workers
Dentists provide us with invaluable services that help preserve a healthy smile that can last a lifetime. And today, the availability of high-tech dental tools and techniques means that the knowledge base dentists are required to possess is greater than in years gone by. Dentists must be consistently precise in their prognoses, in performing dental procedures, and in preparing and installing dental appliances. And a dentist is also expected to be calm under pressure and able to help patients and staff to relax as well. Great care must be taken in giving advice to clients, in the use of nitrous oxide and local anesthetics, and also in regard to billing and dealing with insurance companies. Even one mistake or misunderstanding can have serious repercussions.
Dental Assistants are another key component of the total team in the dental office. Those of you who hold a dental assistant license are relied on by your dentist to correctly arrange tools he/she will use during operations, to take care of more minor treatments yourself, to help keep patients calm (especially small children), to ensure tools are sterile, and a variety of other important tasks. Given the scope and critical nature of many of dental assistants' duties, it is no surprise that they often encounter a formal complaint at some point during their career.
Dental Hygienists are yet another important part of the dental staff. As a dental hygienist, you focus on preventative dentistry by means of maintaining optimal oral hygiene. It is your job to explain nutrition and hygiene matters to patients, take X-rays, apply fluoride treatments, make mouth-casts for crowns, keep dental/medical records in good order, and more. Dental hygienists are among the fastest-growing professions in the U.S., but the number of formal accusations registered against those filling this role is also on the rise.
At California License Attorney, we understand the nature of each dental worker's role in the dental office. Patients often do not distinguish enough among these roles, have unrealistic expectations, or judge you by outcomes instead of by actual performance. In other instances, a mistake may have been made, but it may or may not be as severe as the complaint would suggest. In any case, we are not here to judge you but to help you keep your license and continue your practice. We will put our full expertise to work for you with all diligence and fight for the best possible outcome to your case.
Disciplinary Guidelines of the California Dental Board
The Dental Board of California publishes a set of disciplinary guidelines for use by administrative law judges (ALJs) at administrative hearings that determine the outcome of board-initiated investigations.
These guidelines make it clear that the board is not "on your side" but looking out first and foremost for the consumer and the general public. It is not that the California Medical Board is "against you" either, but their concern is with ensuring safe and competent dental services throughout the industry and not with your particular career.
And while that is fully understandable, it is also a concern that many complaints filed against dentists and dental workers are false, exaggerated, not relevant to your ability to perform your duties, or misleadingly reported to the dental board's website. And absent a good license defense attorney, important evidence, mitigating factors, and expert witnesses may never be called into play. We at California License Attorney are here to ensure you get a vigorous and expert defense and are not simply "railroaded" due to the board's tendency to overlook factors in your favor because they are so focused on safety issues.
The board can issue a number of different disciplinary actions, depending on the nature of the allegation and any aggravating or mitigating factors. Possible forms of professional discipline include:
- Citation and fine. This is a relatively minor form of discipline, but as it will be posted publicly on the California Dental Board's website, it can hurt your prospects of gaining new clients or of obtaining future employment. Thus, it is well worth fighting.
- Public reprimand. Though not including a fine, a public reprimand can have much the same effect as a citation. It is only used in instances where no actual harm was done to a patient.
- Interim suspension. If the board feels you may be likely to commit an unsafe act in the near future, they may suspend your license during the investigation. We can help you get an interim suspension overturned if at all possible so you can continue your work. Considering that investigations can take months to years to complete, you cannot afford to "wait out" an interim suspension.
- Stay of revocation with probation. Often, we can work to get a license revocation stayed and get you probation in its place. When a total victory is not obtainable, this may be the best option. At least you can continue your practice, though with certain restrictions and probationary terms applied. And we can fight to reduce your probation period to the minimum.
- Suspension or revocation. When charges are especially severe or when you do not show the board you intend to challenge the allegation and show up for any hearing scheduled, a suspension or revocation is likely. We can still fight to reduce the length of a suspension and to get a revoked license reinstated as soon as possible.
Factors the board will consider in determining what form of discipline to administer, if any, are as follows:
- The nature and severity of the violation.
- Whether any actual harm came to a patient.
- What harm potentially could have resulted.
- Any previous disciplinary actions on your professional record.
- If you are facing only one or multiple allegations currently.
- Aggravating and mitigating evidence.
- Evidence of rehabilitation, such as completing a substance abuse program, a counseling program, or furthering your dental education.
- The existence of a criminal record that "substantially relates to" your practice, how long ago your conviction(s) were, and whether you complied with any court-ordered probationary terms.
Possible Allegations You May Face
What charges are normally involved in a formal accusation? Here is a list of the most common complaints/accusations you may face as a dental practitioner:
- Refusing to treat a patient in genuine need of care.
- Failing to pay a previously issued citation.
- Securing your professional license by means of fraud.
- Taking "kickbacks" for prescribing or using certain drugs, dental appliances, or dental equipment.
- Failure to disclose information relating to a patient referral service.
- Using false or misleading advertising to gain clients.
- Administering excessive prescriptions or treatments.
- Sexual abuse or misconduct, whether against a patient or a staff member.
- Failing to give refunds for any over-payments made by clients or their insurers.
- All varieties of insurance fraud.
- Having a mental or physical illness that prevents you from adequately and safely performing your duties.
- Keeping false, faulty, or misleading records on client care or financial issues.
- Administering general anesthesia or sedation without a license to do so.
- Negligence, gross negligence, or incompetence in the performance of dental care or in refusing to provide such care.
- Conviction of a crime substantially affecting your ability to carry on with your dental duties.
- Allowing assistants to work under you without their having a proper dental license.
- Failing to properly monitor assistants.
- Performing procedures outside of your expertise and/or the limits of your license.
- Advertising a "guaranteed" or "100% sure to be pain-free" dental service.
- Drug or alcohol abuse, especially on the job.
- Illegally prescribing drugs or dealing in a controlled substance.
- Allowing anyone to operate an X-ray machine in a way that violates state regulations.
- Misrepresenting past disciplinary actions taken against you to patients.
- Threatening or harassing former patients to prevent their testifying against you or making an official complaint.
- Keeping you dental office in an "unsanitary condition" that compromises patients' health.
- Failing to report the death of a patient who was in your care.
- Continuing to practice after your license expires or is suspended or revoked.
- Having your out of state dental license revoked. This can lead to your California license coming under scrutiny.
This long list of possible violations is not even complete, but it illustrates how diverse are the complaints that can be filed against those in professional dentistry.
We at California License Attorney understand in-depth the nature of these various charges and how to go about undermining evidence brought against you in each scenario. We know how the system works and will apply our full legal expertise with undying tenacity in fighting for your license and your future.
In some cases, there simply is no way to prevent the board from taking some form of disciplinary action. A stay of the revocation with a period during which you can still practice but with your license "on probation" may be the best obtainable result. Sometimes, a relatively short actual suspension period must precede the probation or a stipulation (such as going through drug rehab) must be met before probation can begin.
But even within the sphere of probation, there is room for a good license attorney to help get you a lighter form of discipline. There are standard probationary terms that apply to all, and there are those that apply to particular classes of violations.
But there are also probation conditions that are negotiable. This is where we can work to make your probation more bearable. Whether or not you must have your practice supervised, have a constant "3rd party chaperone monitor," do community service, or have your billing practices monitored, for example, might depend on a plea deal reached with the prosecutor and agreed to by the ALJ and the board.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we have deep experience in countering all manner of possible complaints filed against dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists with the California Dental Board.
We know how to build you a solid defense and win you the most favorable outcome possible, be that a dismissal or a form of professional discipline that is reduced in severity and shortened in length.
Contact us today at 888-959-0068, anytime 24/7/365, and we will give you a free consultation on the details of your case and immediately begin building a defense strategy should you opt to avail yourself of our services.