Dental Board Complaint Defense Lawyer

A dental patient contemplating on filing a complaint

Multiple challenges come with owning a dental practice, including dealing with a dental board complaint. Dental board complaints can arise even when dentists manage their practices and treat patients effectively and ethically. You may encounter a patient who exaggerates or lies about an incident or accident and find yourself in a dental board investigation. 

A dental board complaint can derail your livelihood and reputation. Contact Mahan Dental Law today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the process and your rights. We represent clients throughout the United States and will provide an effective legal defense while helping you navigate the complaint process and negotiate the best outcome possible. 

Reasons A Patient Files A Dental Board Complaint

Dental board complaints can financially and mentally challenge dental practice owners and partners. Many dentists are focused on running their busy dental practices and may not understand how board complaints are made, processed, and resolved. In many cases, a disgruntled patient will file a claim against the dentist. 

Dental complaints can be made on a wide range of factors, even those unrelated to the dentist’s quality of work. Personality clashes and billing disputes can result in dental board complaints. Some of the most common reasons people file dental board complaints include the following:

  • A patient files a complaint because of the high cost of treatment
  • A patient claims they didn’t receive a service for which they were billed
  • Long waiting time for an appointment
  • Patients claim that they didn’t consent to a treatment for which they were billed
  • A patient claims the dentist didn’t provide all of the details for the procedure
  • A patient complaints that the dentist didn’t listen to their problem
  • Claims of discrimination based on age, race, disability, or another protected class
  • Claims related to rude behavior from the dentist or office staff
  • Claims related to sexual harassment
  • Unsatisfactory examination or treatment
  • Delayed or missed diagnosis

What to Do When Someone Files a Dental Board Complaint Against You

If you’ve received a notice from the dental board that someone has filed a complaint against you, contacting an attorney is the first thing you should do. An attorney will review the claim against you, investigate the alleged incident, and develop a compelling defense strategy for you. You should also contact your dental malpractice insurance carrier. Advise your carrier that a complaint has been filed against you and determine whether they will cover your legal expenses. Most malpractice policies include coverage for license defense coverage. If your insurance denies coverage for legal representation and your policy includes coverage, your attorney can also hold the insurance company accountable.

Responding to the Dental Board Notice of Complaint 

Generally, the Notice of Complaint will include a subpoena that requires you to provide the entire patient file to the Dental Board’s investigator. The best course of action will typically be to comply with the subpoena and provide the requested dental records. However, you should speak to an attorney before you comply; you may have a valid reason to object to the subpoena. 

Do not ignore the subpoena, as doing so could result in an additional fine and disciplinary action from the dental board. The subpoena may include written questions you need to answer. Your answer will carry significant weight in the outcome of the investigation, so it’s important to answer truthfully and thoughtfully.

The Investigation Process

After you respond to the subpoena, the investigator will review the information you’ve provided and may request an interview and additional information. Depending on your case, there may be multiple interviews. You have a right to have your attorney present during these interviews. The investigator will review the records to determine whether a violation has occurred, regardless if it is related to the patient’s complaint. For example, the complaint may have centered around potential sexual harassment. 

Defending Yourself Against Claims of Unprofessional Conduct

During the investigation, the investigator may find problems with charting or screenings of patients. While these issues aren’t directly related to the complaint, you could still face disciplinary action for them. Examples of unprofessional conduct the investigator could find include the following:

  • Committing gross malpractice or repeated acts of malpractice
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Knowingly making fraudulent or false statements connected to the practice of dentistry
  • Repeated irregularities in billing
  • Failing to maintain patient records adequately
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Conduct that poses a danger to the health, welfare, or safety of the patient or the public 

After the consultant and investigator have completed their review, they will send their findings to the dental board. The board will take further action at their next meeting.

What Kind of Penalties Can I Face?

If the dental board decides that a violation has happened, it can take non-disciplinary or disciplinary action. Non-disciplinary actions can include sending a letter of concern or requiring the dentist to take continuing education courses. There is no way to appeal these orders because they aren’t considered disciplinary actions. If the dental board finds that a more serious violation has occurred, they can take the following actions:

  • Suspension of the driver’s license
  • Restrictions on the dentist’s ability to practice
  • Censure
  • Revocation of the dentist’s license 
  • Required restitution to be paid to the patient

Appealing the Board’s Decision

If you disagree with the disciplinary decision of the dental board, you can file an appeal. As part of the appeal, there will be an administrative hearing in front of an administrative law judge. You will be able to call witnesses on your behalf and introduce evidence. The judge’s findings are recommendations the dental board can accept or reject. If the dental board doesn’t change its decision, you have a right to file a complaint with your state’s district court. 

Contact a Skilled Dental Board Complaint Defense Attorney Today

If you’re facing a dental board complaint, you’ll benefit from working with a skilled attorney. Mahan Dental Law will investigate your case and respond to subpoenas and other requests for investigation. We’ll provide effective legal advice and negotiate the best outcome. Contact Mahan Dental Law today to schedule a case evaluation.