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Dental Board of California Disciplinary Actions Against Dentists

When the Dental Board of California (the Board) receives a complaint about a dentist, the complaint is reviewed, and if warranted, investigated by the Board’s Enforcement Program. Whether the complaint alleges an administrative violation or a criminal violation, the review process will determine if the complaint is substantiated and if so, will be investigated by the Enforcement Program’s Complaint Analysis Section.

A complaint against a dentist may be triggered by a consumer, another dental professional, or a criminal conviction.

Disciplinary actions for administrative violations examples include:

  • Accepting or receiving rebates
  • False or misleading public communications (advertising)
  • Excessive prescribing of drugs
  • Overtreating a condition
  • Administration of anesthesia or sedation with a valid permit
  • Negligence or incompetence

Violations that may be administrative and criminal (if charged and convicted) examples include:

Criminal violations are:

  • A conviction of any crime, misdemeanor or felony, in any jurisdiction, that is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a dentist.” (Business and Professions Code §1670.1(a).) This phrase broadly encompasses any conduct that “if to a substantial degree it evidences present or potential unfitness of a [licensed dentist] to perform the functions authorized by the license in a manner consistent with the public health, safety, or welfare.” (California Code of Regulations, Title 16, section 1019.)

When an Enforcement Program investigation finds that disciplinary action is warranted, an Accusation is usually filed against the dentist by the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The DCA is the umbrella governmental agency that oversees and administers all professional board actions. When appropriate, such as when billing or insurance fraud or sexual misconduct against a patient is established, the Enforcement Program may also refer the conduct to the district attorney or the California Attorney General for criminal prosecution.

An Accusation filed against a dentist by the DCA will include a “prayer”or recommendation for certain disciplinary action. Often this recommendation will be the maximum penalty, which for most violations is revocation of the license to practice dentistry. However, a license is usually revoked only for the most egregious of conduct. Nonetheless, is important to contest the Accusation; otherwise, the Board may impose a harsher discipline than what may be meted out if the licensee has an opportunity to defend the Accusation.

This is where a professional license defense attorney steps in. The first step is to file a notice contesting the action and requesting a hearing before the DCA. This is an administrative hearing (even if the reason for the discipline entails a criminal conviction), which is held before an administrative law judge. A skilled attorney understands how to navigate this often complicated process.

There are often alternatives to strict license discipline. For example, a lawyer defending a dentist who is facing license discipline due to a DUI or drug conviction can advocate for a diversion program, which is offered by the Board. Successful entry and completion of this program will allow the dentist to continue practicing under stipulated conditions while attending intervention and treatment programs. 

There are certain criteria the Board is looking for when deciding on disciplinary action against a license. Orange County professional license defense attorney William Weinberg understands the nuances of the process and he cares! As a licensed professional himself, he knows how important it is to preserve your license and your livelihood. Although an Accusation filed against your license may cause you to panic, don’t! You can almost always obtain a better disciplinary outcome than you imagine when you first learn of the Accusation.

It is important that when you receive the Accusation, you act quickly. The Board gives you a short time period—sometimes as little as 15 days— to respond. Call an experienced professional license defense lawyer right away.

Following a Notice of Defense and a request for a hearing, you are provided the opportunity to present your side and your evidence. The Board responds most favorably to those licensees who present an honest defense. Licensees under disciplinary action who do not accept responsibility for the conduct often find themselves facing harsher discipline. Even while accepting responsibility for the conduct, the licensee can still present mitigating and other defense evidence. Attorney William Weinberg will help you put to together a strong defense and mitigation package along with a personal narrative in consideration of what the Board is looking for in terms of accepting responsibility and evidence of rehabilitation. 

In some instances, a professional license defense lawyer can negotiate a settlement without even the need for a hearing. If a hearing is held before the administrative law judge (with the attorney general’s office represents the Board), it can take several months before the judge issues a proposed decision to the Board. If that decision is unfavorable, the licensee can file an appeal to the Board or a writ of mandate to the superior court. Even in the worst case where the Board revokes the license, the licensee can (with some exceptions) apply for reinstatement of the license after a prescribed number of years.

Are You Facing a Dental Board of California Disciplinary Action? CONTACT ATTORNEY WILLIAM WEINBERG FOR IMMEDIATE HELP!

Your license is your livelihood. Don’t jeopardize it by trying to face the Board on your own. Some licensees believe the conduct they are accused of is not that serious and try to defend themselves. If an Accusation is filed, the Board almost certainly thinks the conduct is worthy of discipline and self-represented licensees may be surprised at the discipline they receive. Orange County professional license defense lawyer takes every case seriously and understands the rules of the game. If you are facing an Accusation or any threatened disciplinary action against your dental license, contact Mr. Weinberg for a complimentary review of your case. You may contact him at his Irvine office by calling 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com.

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