Dental License Defense Attorney in Texas
Top Dental License Defense Lawyers in Austin and Houston, TX
All Texas dentists rely on good standing with the state licensing board to keep their practices open. If this relationship sours because of suspected malpractice, fraud, drug use, or other illegal or negligent practices, a dentist could have their license suspended or revoked permanently. Dentists facing this possibility should contact a dental license defense attorney as soon as possible.
Obtaining a strong legal defense is key if you are facing a license investigation by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. Having a dental license defense attorney represent your case could mean the difference between having an investigation dropped and being heavily penalized by the state board.
Facing the loss of your license to practice dental medicine can be frightening, as it can mean losing your ability to provide for yourself and your family. If you are facing a review board, securing the representation of an experienced Texas dental license defense attorney may be your first step to protecting yourself and your practice from serious repercussions.
At the Leichter Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the freedoms and privileges of our professional clients. To discuss your case and needs with one of our compassionate and understanding professional license defense attorneys, please contact us today by calling 512-495-9995.
Dental License Defense and the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is responsible for monitoring and regulating the practice of dentistry in the state of Texas through the enforcement of the Dental Practice Act, Texas Occupations Code § 251.001.
- 263.002 of the Dental Practice Act authorizes the Board of Dental Examiners to impose disciplinary action against a license or dentist’s registration for:
- Negligent quality of care
- Professional misconduct
- Non-therapeutic prescribing
- Boundary violations
- Inadequate maintenance of patient charts and records
- Chemical dependency
- Criminal arrests, charges or convictions
- Unprofessional conduct
The Process of Investigations, Administrative Hearings, and Disciplinary Actions
The disciplinary process begins with an Investigation by the Board of Dental Examiners Enforcement Division into the license holder’s alleged violation under 22 Texas Administrative Code § 107 Subchapter B.
Once the investigation is completed, the Board has three options: (1) close the case for a lack of a violation; (2) refer the case to an Informal Settlement Conference; or (3) refer the case for an Administrative Hearing. The dentist has a right to counsel at every stage of this disciplinary process.
Pursuant to Dental Practice Act § 263.002(a), the Dental Board may reprimand or administratively fine the license holder and may probate and monitor, suspend, or revoke a dentist’s license to practice dentistry in the state of Texas based on any finding of a ground for discipline.
With regard to chemical dependency, the Board of Dental Examiners takes a proactive approach to providing recovery and support for dentists with an addiction to alcohol or chemical dependency. They may go through the appropriate intervention programs to facilitate their recovery.
The Professional Recovery Network, established by the Texas Pharmacy Association, assists dental professionals who suffer from the disease of addiction.
When Do You Need a Dental License Defense Attorney?
Even if they try their best to maintain as much integrity and professionalism as possible in their practice, dentists, dental hygienists, and even registered dental assistants could face accusations or complaints of misconduct. When this happens, their dental license could be at risk.
The Texas State Dental Board outlines the dentistry regulations in the state. The Board exists for a few key reasons, including protecting patients from harm, holding negligent dental professionals accountable, and disciplining them if necessary.
Notably, dental board investigations do not proceed in the same way as a dental malpractice case would. When the board takes action against a dentist, they are not required to prove that the dentist caused actual harm to a patient. Rather than going through a criminal or civil court, any disciplinary action against a dentist will occur in administrative hearings.
Even a simple investigation can have a significant impact on one’s professional life and ability to provide for their family. Trying to confront the dental board without legal representation is a slippery slope that often leads to worse results than if an attorney were involved.
As soon as dentists are aware of any complaints or accusations against them of criminal and administrative violations, they should seek help from experienced dental license defense attorneys. Waiting too long could lead to dentist disciplinary actions by the board.
What Can Trigger a Texas Dental Board Investigation?
Generally, the dental board’s enforcement unit will initiate an investigation after receiving a complaint, a notification of a criminal charge, or a notification of any disciplinary actions taken in other states.
Complaints against dentists are easy to submit to the board, and they also receive automatic notifications of criminal arrests and convictions through fingerprint notifications from law enforcement agencies.
Some of the most common triggers for the dental board’s investigative process include the following.
- Fraudulent billing practices
- Dentist DUI or other criminal charges
- Violations of the dental standard of care, also called negligent quality of care
- Unprofessional conduct, such as violating HIPAA regulations or altering patient records
- Impairment during dental services, such as from alcohol or drug abuse
- Unlicensed practice of dentistry, or aiding and abetting someone who is not a licensed dentist
- Inappropriate prescription practices, such as violating drug laws
- Workplace sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct
Remember that the dental board investigators will likely have years of experience investigating the professional conduct of dentists. This is why having experienced dental license defense attorneys on your side is crucial.
How to Know When the Investigation Has Started
Generally, the dental board will send dentists a request for an interview or for professional records when they open an investigation. They may even send an investigator to the dentist’s office unannounced. If you receive a records or interview request, it is safe to assume that the dental board has opened an investigation.
If you are facing a criminal charge, you should expect the state dental board to investigate the situation shortly after. Regardless of whether you believe you have committed a violation, it is in your best interest to speak with a license defense attorney as soon as you are aware of an investigation.
Defending Against a Board Investigation
The state board is responsible for licensing qualified dentists and upholding a high standard of care for all practicing professionals. If a dentist is suspected of violating that standard, they could be investigated and penalties may be issued.
Unfortunately, sometimes the board prematurely initiates a case when there is little evidence against a practicing dentist. A dentist may be wrongly punished in a case in which there is only tenuous evidence against them.
Fortunately, you can take legal action to avoid the risk of being wrongly penalized for a licensing violation. An experienced Texas dental license defense lawyer can help you by:
- Fielding all communications between you and the licensing board
- Gathering evidence to support your case
- Scrutinizing the validity and legality of evidence or testimony brought against you
- Negotiating less severe penalties or having penalties dropped
- Negotiating alternatives to license suspension or revocation
What Penalties Can a Dental Board Impose on a Dental Professional?
If the board determines that a dentist has, in fact, committed a violation, they may face very serious penalties. As long as the case meets the standard for disciplinary action, it will be referred to the State Attorney General’s Office for further review. The exact processes for investigation and discipline vary from state to state, but the general steps are similar.
If the dental board determines that disciplinary action is necessary, they could impose one of the following penalties.
- Public reprimands
- Citations with or without fines
- Probated license
- License suspension
- License revocation
Although many cases can be resolved through negotiations, this is not always how the cookie crumbles. If negotiations cannot resolve the situation, the outcome will be decided in an administrative hearing before an administrative judge.
The judge will hear both sides, take all information into consideration, and then render a judgment. This judgment typically happens within 30 days of the hearing.
Contact an Experienced Dental License Defense Lawyer with Leichter Law
If you are at risk of losing your dental license, the Texas dental license defense attorneys of Leichter Law may be able to help you. We understand that facing a dental board investigation can be stressful, but you don’t have to handle it alone.
Our team has years of experience defending dentists and their licenses against accusations of misconduct. We have what it takes to build a strong case in defense of your license and your professional future.
To discuss the circumstances of your case with us in detail, please contact us today by calling 512-495-9995 to schedule your initial consultation.