In California, filed complaints against dentists undergo an extensive review process through the Dental Board of California (DBC), and, if during the complaint analysis the Board's Enforcement Program determines that further inspection or investigation is necessary, the possibility of your license, livelihood, and reputation being marred greatly increases. Therefore, having an experienced lawyer who is well-versed in the various aspects of the Board proceedings there to assist you through the process is imperative. Filed complaints and cases usually revolve around alcohol, drug, or controlled substance usage, ineptitude in carrying out the duties, repeated and/or gross negligence, or criminal activity. Such complaints can be filed by patients, workers, law enforcement, health-care providers, and others who deem such complaints as necessary.
Complaint Intake and Analysis
The DBC's trained professional receives and evaluates complaints against dental professionals to evaluate whether they are warranted. Depending on the nature of the complaint, it may be forwarded to Complaint Analysis, Inspection, Investigation, or other State agencies.
In the Complaint Analysis section, analysts collect dental records from the person who filed the complaint as well as information and records from the dental professionals who are related to the complaint. From there, the complaint is reviewed by the Board's dental consultants. If the complaint is determined to be unjustified, then the complaint is closed. If the complaint is deemed warranted, the next phase for the filed complaint is inspection or investigation.
Inspection and Investigation
In the Inspection Section and Investigation Section, professionals from the DBC look into the complaint in more detail. During this stage of the complaint process, if the complaint is deemed unfounded after further inspection or investigation, then the complaint is dismissed.
Based on the degree of the violation, the dentist may face a misdemeanor and a small fine, or, in more serious criminal offenses, there may be formal charges brought to the dentist.
- Inspection Section: For inspection cases, inspectors thoroughly examine, analyze, and evaluate the dental practice to report any unsafe or unhygienic conditions. Based on their findings and the degree of the hazardous conditions, they will deliver administrative warnings and citations.
If at fault, the dentist will then have to pay any applicable fines and provide proof that the condition has been amended.
- Investigation Section: For investigation cases, peace officers examine, analyze, and evaluate reports, interviews, and other necessary evidences to investigate if the dental professionals are committing criminal activity such as unlawful treatment towards the patient (i.e. battery or sexual misconduct); alcohol, drug, or controlled substance use and/or violations; billing and insurance fraud; and unlicensed dental practices.
If found guilty, the unlawful affairs are filed with the local District Attorney's Offices or the California of the Attorney General for prosecution.
If the complaint is deemed substantive in the Inspection Section or Investigation Section, the dental professional(s) involved would be put on probation. During this probationary period, the Board ensures public safety in the dental field and that the dental professionals are complying with the probation requirements. Failure to maintain probation orders may result in the dental professionals having their licenses revoked.
Having a Lawyer
Even if the complaint is in the beginning stages of review, you should contact an experienced healthcare attorney immediately so that you have proper representation throughout the process.