Dental Board of CA Disciplinary Actions

Posted in Licensing Defense

Dental Board of CA

The Dental Board of California (DBC) licenses and regulates the practice of dentistry in California. In addition to dentists, the DBC regulates registered dental assistants as well as registered dental assistants in extended functions. Its functions include ensuring public safety by investigating complaints regarding licensees and pursuing enforcement actions, when necessary.

Disciplinary actions typically begin with a complaint filed by a patient, colleague, family member, or another member of the public. The DBC then investigates the complaint, and may then refer it to the Enforcement Unit for further investigation. If the complaint is substantiated, then the DBC may file a formal Accusation against the licensee, which could lead to a range of consequences, including probation, suspension, or even revocation of a license.

If you are the subject of a complaint before the Dental Board, it is important to act quickly to defend your license and your livelihood. A skilled San Diego healthcare license defense attorney will take a proactive approach, advocating on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

The Dental Board of California’s Disciplinary Action Process

The disciplinary action process typically begins with a complaint about a potential violation of the Dental Practice Act. These complaints may be made by a patient or family member, an insurance company, a law enforcement agency, or other healthcare providers. Convictions for certain crimes that affect a licensee’s ability to practice dentistry may also trigger an investigation.

After a complaint is received, the Dental Board begins its initial investigation. Based on its review, it will determine if the case should be closed as non-jurisdictional, no negligence, possible simple negligence, or if it should be referred to the DBC’s Enforcement Unit. Complaints filed with the DBC are confidential and are not a matter of public record unless an Accusation is filed against the licensee.

The enforcement program consists of five distinct sections:

  1. Complaint Intake: the Board receives and screens complaints for possible closure or referral to another unit.
  2. Complaint Analysis: this unit consists of a team of analysts who will request all applicable dental records, then forward the files to a dental consultant to determine if there has been a violation of the Dental Practice Act.
  3. Inspection: If a complaint alleges unsafe or unsanitary conditions in a dental office, an investigator will visit the practice and issue administrative warnings and citations as necessary.
  4. Investigation: this team investigates criminal and administrative violations of the Dental Practice Act. These investigators are sworn peace officers. If the investigators determine that there has been unlawful activity or a violation of the Act, then the case will be referred to the local district attorney’s office and/or the Office of Attorney General to file an Accusation.
  5. Probation: this unit is responsible for monitoring compliance with probationary terms imposed by the Board.

During an investigation by the Enforcement Unit, a complaint will be investigated and analyzed by the various sections. A licensee may be notified if a complaint has been made against them, and may be asked to voluntarily provide access to records relating to the complaint. If the Enforcement Unit believes that a complaint has been substantiated, then an Accusation may be filed against the licensee by the Office of the Attorney General.

An Accusation is a formal legal process that may result in disciplinary action. After an Accusation is filed, a hearing will be scheduled with an Administrative Law Judge. The judge will hear evidence, and then issue a decision on discipline, which will then be considered by the Board. The judge’s recommendations to the Board may be adopted, modified, or rejected.  

According to the Dental Board, it most often receives complaints related to:

  • Sexual misconduct with a patient
  • Conviction of a crime
  • Improper advertising
  • False or fictitious name use
  • Gross negligence
  • Repeated negligent acts
  • Incompetence
  • Fee sharing
  • Use of a controlled substance, or dangerous drug, or alcoholic beverage during practice of dentistry
  • Fraud
  • Illegal use or duplication of license
  • Infection control

If any of these allegations are substantiated, it could result in disciplinary action by the Board.

Potential Discipline

Under the Dental Practice Act, the Dental Board may impose discipline for unprofessional conduct, incompetence, gross negligence, or repeated acts of professional negligence. This discipline may include revocation or suspension of a license to practice dentistry, probation, or a public reprimand.

The Dental Board maintains guidelines for discipline, which lists the maximum and minimum penalty for each substantiated complaint. For example, if a dentist is found to have excessively prescribed or administered drugs, the maximum penalty is revocation, and the minimum penalty is revocation stayed, with five years of probation. These guidelines also include standard probation terms, which can be tailored to fit the specific situation.

Both during the investigation process and after an Accusation has been filed, a licensee has an opportunity to advocate for themselves with the assistance of a seasoned San Diego healthcare license defense attorney. After performing an investigation of the facts and review of the applicable law, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a closure of the complaint against you, or a more favorable disciplinary action — such as a public reprimand instead of a license suspension. You should not meet with Board investigators without counsel, or submit anything in writing without first consulting with an attorney.

How We Can Help

If you are the subject of an investigation by the California Dental Board, you may be feeling incredibly overwhelmed and stressed about the possible outcome. We are here to help. Our team of experienced healthcare license defense lawyers will put together a comprehensive strategy to protect your license.

For more than 21 years, attorney Nicole Irmer has represented individuals who are facing serious charges or threats to their license. She knows the law and has the experience and skill to achieve the best possible result. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, reach out at 619-327-6130 or fill out our online contact form.