How to Avoid Board Action
Dentistry is an increasingly regulated field. The need to protect the patient, the practitioner and the staff is becoming more and more apparent. The dental boards for each state are taking note of this, and are taking action to help make dentistry better for everyone. To make sure that you don’t find yourself the headline of your own ‘board action’ story, consider the following scenarios to avoid board action. We have modified the names of the dental boards and doctors in question to ensure privacy.
Editorial Note: Normally we like to provide links for more information about a given story or fact. To protect the anonymity of the doctors listed in this article, we have avoided linking to anything that would help identify them.
Our first story involves Dental Board X who suspended a dentist’s license after a complaint against the practitioner incurred an investigation. The dental board found three primary deficiencies in this practice after the patient filed a complaint about their treatment. The board found there to be an insufficient treatment plan. Even more importantly, the treatment that was documented did not match the treatment plan. Also, much of the documentation did not even exist. Many dental practice software systems, like Dentrix, have a robust reporting function and it is of the utmost importance to take full advantage of this functionality.
In another story, Dental Board Y received a tip from an employee at a dentist’s office that they were not keeping up-to-date with their sterilizer testing. The frequency set forth by the CDC is that sterilizers must be tested at least once a week. After an investigation, the dentist was found to have only tested their sterilizer 4 times in two years. While this is an extreme example, it is easy to forget to test your sterilizer every week. Electronic reminders and assigning responsibility to a specific person is the best way to ensure that this task is done so you will stay out of hot water.
The third case study is an extreme example. Dental Board Z was notified of malpractice on the part of a dentist whose patient was sent to the emergency room after suffering from severe respiratory depression under moderate conscious sedation. After investigation, the dentist was found to have failed to titrate, was using insufficient infection control measures, and had inadequate equipment and medications to handle the ensuing emergency. If you have any questions about handling medical emergencies and what you need, check Dr. Malamed’s guest blog to give you a better idea.
These three cases are just a sampling of the ways that dentists will find themselves in trouble with the state and/or their medical board. Other considerations are HIPAA, OSHA, DEA and EPA regulations, all of which have requirements specifically for dentists. Make sure you have a plan for each of these bodies to stay clear of trouble.