Monterey License Attorney


Dentists, Dental Assistants & Dental Hygienists

After completing a demanding training program, you graduate from medical school. Then, you sit for the Dental Board of California’s licensing exams and pass, after which the board issues you your professional license. Regrettably, an accusation can bring down your hard work, put your license at stake, and reduce your chances of financial and professional success.

If you have received a notice of a board hearing or are being investigated, consult a Monterey License Attorney immediately. Contacting us can give us enough time to prepare, gather the relevant details about your complaint, and analyze the board’s applicable laws to fight for your career and future. We can also contact the involved parties to resolve the complaint amicably.

Understanding the Different Roles of Dental Practitioners

A dentist offers irreplaceable services that preserve a lasting, beautiful smile. And with state-of-the-art techniques and equipment, dentists can offer better services. As a dentist, you should be precise in your prognosis when offering dental treatments and installing appliances. You should remain calm and help your patients relax. Also, it would be best if you guide your patients accordingly. A single misunderstanding or error can have life-altering consequences.

As a dental assistant, you are tasked with the following responsibilities:

  • Arranging the equipment a dentist will use when performing dental surgeries.
  • Handling minor dental treatments.
  • Helping keep patients calm, particularly children.
  • Ensuring tools are safe and sterile.

Given the nature and scope of your responsibilities, it is unsurprising that you can encounter a complaint during your career.

As a trained dental hygienist, your primary role is preventative dentistry, which involves maintaining oral hygiene. Some duties include taking diagnostic imaging, explaining hygiene and nutrition issues to patients, applying fluoride treatments, and reviewing patients’ medical records.

It takes many years of diligent study and intense training to practice dentistry. Then the Dental Board of California will put you through an expensive and rigorous process before issuing you a professional license. However, it takes one mistake or complaint to put the license at risk of being revoked or suspended.

Some of the most common accusations or complaints you can face include the following:

  • Sexual misconduct or abuse against a colleague or patient.
  • Engaging in insurance fraud.
  • Administering excessive treatments and prescriptions.
  • Obtaining your license through fraud.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse while working.
  • Incompetence, negligence, or gross negligence when offering dental care.
  • Having a conviction that significantly affects your ability to conduct your dental duties.
  • Allowing your assistants to work under you without a proper dental license.
  • Harassing or threatening your former patients to stop them from making a complaint or testifying against you.

The Board’s Disciplinary Guidelines

The licensing board publishes the guidelines that administrative law judges (ALJs) use at administrative hearings to determine the result of investigations. The policies are designed to ensure dental practitioners offer competent and safe services.

Some of the types of disciplinary actions imposed include the following:

  • Citations and fines — A less severe type of disciplinary action can affect your possibility of finding future employment or new clients.
  • Public reprimand — While a public reprimand does not include a fine, it carries similar effects as a citation. Typically, an ALJ will impose it when a dental practitioner does not cause a patient any harm.
  • Interim suspension — If the Dental Board of California believes you will commit a crime in the future, it can suspend your professional license during the duration of your investigation. Since the investigation can be lengthy, you should seek immediate legal assistance.
  • Stay of revocation with probation — When it is almost impossible to obtain total victory, stay of revocation with probation is the ideal option. It allows you to continue practicing with specific probationary terms and restrictions. Your professional license defense attorney can work to reduce the probation duration.
  • Revocation or suspension — When your charges are serious, or you fail to show the Dental Board of California your intention to challenge your accusation and attend the scheduled hearing, you risk revocation or suspension.

When determining whether to impose probation, suspension, or revocation, the Dental Board of California considers the following factors:

  • Severity and nature of the conduct or the involved crime.
  • The potential or actual threat to the public.
  • The potential or actual danger to patients.
  • Previous disciplinary record.
  • Variety and number of violations.
  • Aggravating and mitigating proof.
  • Rehabilitation evidence.
  • If convicted of a crime, adhering to the terms of your sentence and probation.
  • Your criminal record.
  • When did the offense occur.

Some of the documents you can use as evidence to prove your dental competency and rehabilitative efforts include the following:

  • Group or individual counseling.
  • Random biological fluid screenings.
  • Completing an alcohol or drug treatment program.
  • Attending addictive disease-related education courses.
  • Participating in various dental support groups.
  • Complying with a twelve-step recovery program and written evidence of engaging in a twelve-step recovery group.
  • Transcripts or certificates of programs associated with dentistry that you completed since the violation date.
  • Latest dated performance evaluation from your employer.
  • Recent, dated lab drug screen reports or analyses, when necessary.
  • Latest physical exam reports by a licensed medical professional.
  • For a professional license, a statement from your boss indicating they know of your previous alcohol or drug abuse challenges. Also, the statement should document that you performed your dental roles competently and safely during your employment and there was no proof of continued drug or alcohol use.

Some of the situations that make the board recommend revocation are as follows:

  • Failing to bring a notice of defense or to attend your disciplinary hearing, where the board has requested revocation.
  • A conviction or substantiated evidence of sexual or physical abuse crimes.
  • Violation of your board’s probation program conditions.
  • Some of the mitigating evidence you can use when fighting the allegations against you include the following:
  • How long you practiced.
  • You do not have a previous disciplinary action.
  • Early admissions.
  • Demise or illness of a loved one or other personal circumstances affecting your performance during the incident.

Probation Conditions and Terms

The Board is tasked with consumer protection. It imposes probation to ensure the set conditions protect patients and create mechanisms to monitor your rehabilitation progress.

Typically, the Board will recommend a three-year probation unless it warrants a shorter or longer term.

Discussed below are the typical probationary conditions

Abiding by All Laws

You should comply with all local, state, and federal laws and rules governing California's dentistry practice. You should also obey your court-ordered probation and payments. You should report a comprehensive account of your conviction and arrest to the licensing Board within seven days.

Submitting Quarterly Reports

You should submit quarterly reports signed under penalty of perjury within seven days from the beginning of your assigned quarter. Your reports should indicate whether you have been complying with the probation terms.

Your Residency, Practice or Licensure Outside California Status

If you should leave the state to practice or reside outside California, you should submit a written notification to the board with your departure date and anticipated return date. Your probation will be tolled when and if you cease practicing in the Golden State.

Interviews and Meetings

You should attend all in-person meetings and be available for interviews as the board directs.

Probation Monitoring Costs

You should pay all incurred probation monitoring costs by the specified dates. You should make the payment to the board.

If you cannot make any monthly payments, you should write an explanation of why you cannot pay the cost and when you will submit them.

Surrendering Your License

If you stop practicing due to health reasons, retirement, or an inability to meet your probation conditions, you should surrender your professional license to the board. The licensing board will evaluate your request and exercise discretion on whether to grant it or take another action deemed reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.

Passing an Examination

You must only practice once you have passed the Western Regional Examination Board exam or the California clinical examination. You should foot all the exam-related costs.

If you fail the exam three times, one year must pass before retaking the required exam. Before retaking your exam, you should present evidence of remediation in your deficient areas.

Paying Restitution

You should make arrangements for restitution to the entity or patient within ninety days of being placed on probation.

Community Service

You should submit a community service program to the board in which you regularly offer voluntary services to a charitable agency or non-profit community within sixty days. The community service does not necessarily have to be dental-related.

Before participating in community service, you should present a copy of your probation to the office manager, chief executive officer, director, or program manager at the organization where you offer community service.

You should complete community service at least 120 days before your scheduled probation termination.

Completion of Probation or Continuance of Your Probationary Term

If you break your probation conditions, the Board will schedule a hearing during which it can set aside your stay order and impose a license suspension or revocation. If, during your probationary period,

  • A petition to revoke your probation or accusation against you has been brought, or
  • The Attorney General’s Office has been requested to prepare a petition to revoke your probation or make an accusation against your license,

Your probation term will be extended. It will not expire until the Board acts upon it.

The Board will restore your license after you complete the probation.

Understanding What the Disciplinary Process Looks Like After a Person Has Brought a Complaint Against You or Your Professional License Has Been Challenged

Discussed below are the steps involved in the board’s disciplinary process:

  1. Filing a complaint — Typically, your disciplinary process will begin with a complaint filed with the licensing board. Health insurance providers, colleagues, and patients can file the complaint.
  2. Investigation — The licensing board will investigate the matter to determine its merit. If necessary, the licensing board will ask the complainant for clarification and request your response.
  3. Consent order — Once the investigations are complete and the board believes the complaint has merit, you can accept a consent order. The consent order is an alternative to punishment or a hearing. It is a lawfully binding agreement between the licensing board, you, and the state, where you agree upon an appropriate strategy that includes remediations and sanctions. If the complaint against you is valid, the consent order option can be ideal since it shows collaboration and offers an opportunity for reinstatement.
  4. Formal complaint and board hearing — If your complaint proceeds, the board will start the formal discipline process, which involves a hearing before an ALJ who determines the most applicable disciplinary action.
  5. Appeal — If the ALJ imposes a detrimental decision, you are entitled to appeal the decision to the appellate court. The court will review your case for mistakes and occasionally reverse the ALJ’s decision.

Steps to Take When Facing a Disciplinary Action

If a complaint has been filed against you or the licensing board is investigating you, it is wise to take the appropriate steps to safeguard your career prospects and livelihood. They include:

  • Retain a professional defense lawyer to guide you throughout your disciplinary process and defend your rights.
  • Collect evidence and relevant documentation that support your case. It can include testimonials from supervisors or colleagues, employment. contracts, patient records, or any other details that address the complaint against you and prove you have satisfied professional standards.
  • Respond promptly once you learn of the complaint or the board’s investigation. Consider hiring a lawyer to answer the investigators’ questions. Failing to respond can lead to additional penalties.
  • Stay up-to-date about your continuing education requirements — The board can require you to complete specific programs or courses. Ensure you meet the needs and keep the relevant documentation of your completed educational program.
  • Throughout the disciplinary process, remain calm and maintain professionalism. Taking proactive measures to fix any issue demonstrates your commitment to self-improvement and responsibility for your conduct.

Contact an Aggressive Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

Obtaining a professional license to practice dentistry takes work. Nevertheless, you can lose it in a fraction of a minute, making it essential to seek legal representation. Losing your professional license means losing a chance to earn a living, which could put you and your family under financial pressure and curtail your career trajectory. At Monterey License Attorney, we can guide you throughout the proceeding. We can use our knowledge and experience to develop a winning case plan and fight for your interests.

Please contact us at 831-296-1191 to book a free case evaluation and learn about the available legal options. 

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