The processing of complaints filed with the State Board of Dental Examiners (“Board”) is governed by Chapter 255, Title 3, Occupations Code and Rules 107.00 through 107.103 of the Board’s Rules. After deciding that the complaint involves potential violations, Board Staff has the authority to schedule an informal settlement conference, draw up a proposed
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.
In the past two months I have noticed a significant rise in the number of Dentist’s seeking potential legal representation before the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. This is not surprising as the Dental Board has recently come under fire from both the press and Legislature for what is perceived as a record…
Disciplinary actions before the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners are covered by the Texas Occupations Code and the Dental Board’s own administrative rules. Common grounds for discipline include
- Criminal charges including arrests deferred adjudication probations and convictions including DWI;
- Substance abuse, chemical dependency or the intemperate use of controlled substances;
- Unprofessional conduct;
- Fraudulent billing practices;
- Non-therapeutic or over prescribing;
- Discipline by a peer group or other State Licensing Board;
- Standard of care violations including:
- Failure to obtain appropriate informed consent;
- Inappropriate or non-clinically indicated treatment;
- Failure to provide the patient with an appropriate treatment plan;
- Failure to obtain the patient’s clinical / medical history and obtain and document blood pressure and medications used;
- The provision of care and treatment that falls below the standard of care
The resulting sanctions for violations proved can be severe including an administrative penalty, public reprimand, probation, suspension, or the outright recommended revocation of a practitioner’s license.
A disciplinary proceeding begins with a complaint. Complaints can come from different sources: colleagues- who, under the Dental Practice Act, are required to report certain conduct to the Board- patients, disgruntled family members, peer assistance groups such as Professional Recovery Network, and other states’ licensing authorities. Upon receipt of the complaint, Board Staff will first decide whether they have jurisdiction over the matter, and if they do, initiate an investigation. During the investigation the license holder will be given a copy of the complaint and be asked to return a written preliminary response to the allegations. At this point the Staff will decide whether to publicly dismiss the complaint or pursue a disciplinary proceeding. If the Board determines during the investigation that the continued practice of a license holder constitutes a clear, imminent, or continuing threat to the public, the dentist’s license may be temporarily suspended before a hearing has been held.
Functioning under the authority of Chapter 467 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, the Professional Recovery Network (PRN) provides intervention, treatment & continued support and advocacy to dentist’s suffering from chemical dependency and/or mental illness with the goal of integrating them back into professional practice. Due to its confidential nature, the PRN offers an incentive for impaired dentists to commit to a program of recovery thereby avoiding potential harm to the public or themselves.
Entry to the program begins with a report to PRN. Concerned colleagues, friends, and family may report the dentist to PRN if they have information relating to the professional’s impairment due to mental illness or chemical dependency. In fact, a license holder who is required to report knowledge of an impaired professional satisfies that mandate if they refer the dentist to PRN. Frequently the dentist will self-refer themselves to the program, an avenue which is highly encouraged and can lessen the chance of a later disciplinary sanction. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners also has the option to refer impaired professionals in lieu of a disciplinary action.
Once PRN receives a report they will contact the dentist and send them to an evaluation by a mental health professional. After evaluation, the license holder will sign a Recovery Support Agreement with the program committing themselves to treatment and a continued aftercare plan of recovery and also authorizing PRN to disclose their records if they drop out of the program or otherwise fail to adhere to their contract. This Agreement will outline the proposed treatment and incorporate recommendations made by the evaluator. By entering into the Recovery Agreement, the dentist consents to maintaining contact with the PRN Staff and an assigned mentor, writing quarterly recovery reports, and, if appropriate, undergoing random drug screens. The pharmacist’s mentor, who is a dentist with either a long history of sobriety or extensive experience in a twelve-step or similar recovery program, is there to support, advise, and advocate for the professional throughout treatment.