Dental Complaints and the Disciplinary Process
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) is responsible for responding to and managing complaints against dentists and their practices. Moreover, the TSBDE investigates complaints, laboratories, and additional personnel who work with a dentist. When a complaint is submitted to the TSBDE, it is assigned a classification of either Priority One or Priority Two. Priority One cases represent more serious claims like patient death, injury while in the care of a dentist, unlicensed practice, or conditions that could be considered unsanitary. Priority Two cases are less serious complaints including false advertising and administrative issues.
There are six categories for complaints, and include quality of care, sanitation, professional conduct, administrative issues, complaints against dental laboratories, and complaints against business promotions. Once a complaint has been filed, it is reviewed by the TSBDE to determine whether or not the board has jurisdiction or the authority to act.
If the Board does decide that a complaint falls within its jurisdiction, an investigation will be opened. Once an investigation has been opened, an agent of the TSBDE is assigned to gain an understanding of the circumstances surrounding the incident. The dentist who is accused of the wrongdoing is sent a copy of the complaint and is asked to send a complete copy of the patient’s records for the TSBDE to review.
The dentist does not have any choice but to send the records under state law, but he or she may provide an explanation of the circumstances if desired. Once each step is complete, a summary report is prepared for the TSBDE.
After the review takes place, the case is settled by either an informal settlement conference or a formal hearing. Most often, the issue is handled through the informal hearing where both parties explain their position to a panel of TSBDE members. If the panel agrees that there has been a violation, they will then issue a Board Order—the dentist has approximately one month to accept or reject the Order. If the dentist rejects the Board Order, then a formal hearing before a judge will result.
If a dentist decides not to comply with the final ruling of either the informal or formal hearings, he or she does have the option to file a motion for a rehearing in the district court system. This can become a protracted legal process and it can potentially go all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. Being involved in such a case may require the help of an experienced lawyer.
If you are a care provider named in a dental complaint, it is essential that you have a Texas professional license defense attorney advocating for you and protecting your rights. For more information, please contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, to schedule your consultation today.