Dentists can have their license suspended for many different reasons. For example, recently Channel 3 Eyewitness News reported on a case in which a defendant's license to practice was suspended after several patients reported problems including expired medications, improperly delegating procedures to hygienists, and deviating from "standard care and treatment."
There are some situations where dentists do fail to provide reasonable care and disciplinary action is appropriate. But there are many other situations where it is far more subjective whether the standard of care was followed and whether the dentist provided a professional level of care.
The suspension or revocation of a license is a dramatic remedy, and one which should only be considered in cases where there is a clear failure to live up to professional standards of care. A license should not be lost based on subjective treatment decisions. A medical license defense lawyer should be consulted if your license is at risk because you are being accused of deviating from standard practices of care.
Disciplinary Action and Standard Patterns of Care
The problem with initiating disciplinary action based on deviating from standard care and treatment is that standards can change all the time and there may not actually be a consensus on what is appropriate.
One example relates to the treatment of patients on anticoagulant medication. For a long time, it was generally accepted that patients on blood-thinning medications should consider discontinuing their medications in most situations before undergoing dental work. This is because it can be high-risk to undergo dental care when taking these medications since excessive bleeding could occur. But now the American Dental Association suggests dentists typically should not tell patients to stop taking anticoagulants.
Even with its advice to dentists on treating patients on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin and aspirin, the ADA still hedges its bets and doesn't provide clear guidance. The ADA states that "on the basis of limited evidence, general consensus appears to be that in most patients who are receiving the newer target-specific oral anticoagulants... no change to the anticoagulant regimen is required."
General consensus and limited evidence are not terms which inspire confidence or create certainty in standards of care. This is just one of many issues where there is no clear guidance to provide to dentists because the appropriate approach to providing patient treatment is a subjective one which must be made in light of the patient's situation and the dentist's training.
Dentists who use their judgment and whose actions are reasonable in light of their professional backgrounds should not have to face the risk of disciplinary action or even possible suspension of their license just because an accusation is made that they deviated from standards. Anyone accused of providing improper patient care should get help with professional license defense to demonstrate their actions were within the bounds of what is appropriate.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX professional license defense lawyer today. Serving Austin and surrounding suburbs including Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.