Top Reasons that Dentists Lose Their Professional Licenses

Disciplinary proceedings by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (“the Board”) arising from a complaint may lead to serious consequences that may endanger your career. Therefore, securing legal representation by an experienced dental license defense lawyer at Bertolino LLP, can be critical from the outset of any complaint against you.

Various reasons can lead to complaints and disciplinary proceedings against dentists and other dental professionals. However, some situations happen more commonly than others. Here are some examples of why dentists face disciplinary action and ultimately lose their dental licenses. 

Substance Abuse

As with many professionals, substance abuse, including alcohol, illicit drug, and prescription drug abuse, is a common reason for disciplinary action in the dental profession. Sanctions for substance abuse can range from reprimands to revocation of licenses, depending on the severity of the violation(s) involved. Texas dentists who have problems with substance abuse or addiction also can seek support through the Professional Recovery Network for confidential evaluation and treatment options.

Prescription Drug Violations

Although this violation is somewhat related to the previous issue, prescription drug violations, particularly involving controlled substances, are a common problem for dentists. These violations may include illegally storing prescription medications at one’s home, overprescribing drugs, illegally prescribing drugs for relatives or patients who do not need them, or running afoul of the Prescription Monitoring Program. 

Overbilling or Filing False or Fraudulent Insurance Claims

Click to contact our professional license defense lawyers today

In some cases, dentists may overbill their patients for procedures or services that they did not receive. False or fraudulent billing to private insurance companies, Medicaid, or Medicare may also occur. Falsification of patient records also may occur when generating false or fraudulent bills. Not only can dentists face disciplinary action for false or fraudulent billing, but they also may face criminal charges at the federal and state levels. 

Breaching Dentist-Patient Confidentiality

Patient records are confidential medical records, and breaching confidentiality can lead to state and federal law violations. Violations of Board rules and laws related to patient confidentiality also can result in disciplinary action. 

False, Misleading, or Deceptive Advertising

Complete a Case Evaluation form now

Most professionals, including dentists, are subject to strict ethical rules concerning advertising. These rules now encompass advertising on social media and the Internet, which has become a regular type of advertising for most businesses. However, false, misleading, or deceptive advertising or any ads that violate the Board’s rules can result in disciplinary action. Dentists must familiarize themselves with the applicable rules and ensure their advertisements align with them. 

Sexual Misconduct

Inappropriate relationships or sexual advances by dentists toward subordinates or patients can lead to disciplinary complaints and actions. In extreme situations, these incidents also can lead to civil liability and the loss of one’s dental license. As such, dentists must take care not to cross the ethical rules surrounding the dentist-patient relationship and the employer-employee relationship.

Suspension or Revocation of Dental Licenses

The Board publishes a disciplinary matrix that outlines the potential range of sanctions for different violations of the laws that govern dentists. In most cases, it requires a third tier or the most severe violation of the applicable section of the Texas Occupational Code to merit a suspension or revocation of a dental license. For instance, a third-tier violation of Tex. Occ. Code §263.002(a)(1), which occurs when a licensee practices dentistry in a manner that constitutes dishonorable conduct, can result in an enforced suspension followed by a probation suspension, a revocation of license, or consideration of an emergency suspension of a license. A third-tier violation involves:

  • Repeated or continuous acts of dishonorable conduct with violations that
    • present risk of serious patient harm, or
    • caused harm to a patient or another person; or 
  • Dishonorable conduct which results in the death of a patient or another person.

Likewise, the following violations, if severe enough, can result in a license suspension or revocation:

  • Licensee is adjudged to be insane;
  • Failing to treat a patient according to the standard of care in the practice of dentistry (second or third-tier violation);
  • Unlawful advertising (second or third-tier violation);
  • Obtaining a license by fraud or misrepresentation (second-tier violation);
  • Addicted to or habitually intemperate in the use of alcohol or drugs or improperly obtained, possessed, used, or distributed habit-forming drugs or narcotics (second or third-tier violation);
  • Employs or permits a person not licensed to practice dentistry in a dental office (second-tier violation);
  • Failing to use proper diligence in practice or failing to safeguard patients against avoidable infections (second-tier violation);
  • Violates or regulates to comply with a law relating to the regulation of dentists or dental hygienists (third tier violation);
  • Physically or mentally incapable of practicing in a manner that is safe for the person’s dental patients (second or third-tier violation);
  • Negligence in performing dental services that causes injury or damage to a dental patient (second or third-tier violation);
  • Disciplinary action against a licensee in another state (second or third-tier violation); or
  • The owner commits repeated violations of the Dental Practice Act or Board Rules, where management of the entity was a cause of the violation (third-tier violation).

We Will Protect and Defend Your Dental License 

You can count on the experienced dental license defense lawyers at Bertolino LLP, to take all steps necessary to protect your license and career. We will investigate the circumstances that led to your disciplinary proceedings and devise the best strategy for your case. Don’t wait until it is too late for us to make a difference in the outcome of your case. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 or contact us online.

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form