Following the movement of its prior General Counsel to the Office of the Inspector General, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners recently hired Julie Hildebrand to serve as the Board’s new head attorney. For the past several years Ms. Hildebrand has served as the lead litigation attorney for the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. As such, Ms. Hildebrand was responsible for trying the bulk of the Pharmacy Board’s case load at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
Ms. Hildebrand’s predecessor, Joy Sparks, started as General Counsel during a transitional time at the Board as it worked to streamline its investigative and disciplinary process and become more aggressive towards dentists suspected of violating the Dental Practice Act. Ms. Sparks was instrumental in this process, applying many of the same basic procedures used by the Texas Board of Nursing, a much larger board were she was previously employed as Assistant General Counsel. This included multiple changes to the Dental Practice Act designed to modernize it and bring it more in line with licensing laws applicable to other Texas health care professionals.
It is yet to be seen what impact Ms. Hildebrand will have on this trend but I would assume the Dental Board will continue the policies and efficiency building initiatives conceived under Ms. Sparks. Ms. Hildebrand’s prior employer, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, is notorious for assuming unreasonable disciplinary stances that typically lead to otherwise unnecessary litigation. That being said, the Leichter Law Firm’s experience with Ms. Hildebrand is that although she will enforce the Board’s position whatever it may be, she is personally reasonable and willing to consider all aspects of a case. I do not expect the Texas Dental Board to ease off of its more proactive posture towards investigations and disciplinary action against Texas dentists.