If you're a dentist in Idaho, you've already gone through years of education and training to get to this point. You may have a thriving practice, or you could just be starting. But in the gem state, you're undoubtedly a valued member of your community and the healthcare profession. It can be a gut punch if you've received notice of an allegation of misconduct against you. But it's important to take the matter seriously and to handle it as quickly as possible. The repercussions of a finding of misconduct against you by the dental board can seriously impact your career and professional reputation. That's why you need the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team to guide you through the process as soon as possible. Call 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.
Regulation of Dentists in Idaho
In Idaho, the Board of Dentistry, a division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, regulates and licenses dental practitioners in the state. The board regulates:
- Dental specialists,
- Dental hygienists, and
- Dental therapists.
The Board of Dentistry (BOD) implements and enforces rules to comply with Idaho law, including Chapter 9 of Title 54 of Idaho statutes governing professions, vocations, and businesses. The BOD consists of eight members, including:
- Five licensed dentists,
- Two dental hygienists, and
- One member of the public “with an interest in the rights of consumers of dental services.”
The Idaho BOD has the authority to:
- To create rules for fair and impartial licensing and exams for dental practitioners,
- To define the schools, universities, colleges, and programs approved for dental practitioners,
- To determine whether someone is qualified to be licensed in Idaho based on their written and clinical exams, education, and fitness to practice,
- To “prepare, conduct and grade qualifying examinations,”
- To create rules to enforce and administer Idaho law,
- To inspect the offices and operating rooms of dental practitioners licensed in Idaho,
- To define unprofessional conduct and “practice injurious to the public” under Idaho law,
- To conduct and investigate matters related to dental practice, including holding hearings and imposing sanctions,
- To initiate emergency revocation of licenses when there is a danger to the public, and
- To administer oaths and engage in discovery under Idaho rules of civil procedure.
Becoming a Dentist in Idaho
Becoming a dentist in Idaho is a long process requiring years of education and training. To become a licensed Idaho dentist, you must:
- Graduate from a school of dentistry certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation,
- Submit verification of passage of the National Board Dental Examination and a board-approved clinical examination,
- Submit a copy of your CPR certification,
- Submit three letters of reference,
- Submit a National Practitioner Data Bank self-query, and
- Pay the $300 exam and $600 credentials fees.
You will also have to complete a criminal background check.
Potential Disciplinary Issues for Dentists in Idaho
You can face potential disciplinary action in Idaho for unprofessional conduct under the Board of Dentistry rules for dental practitioners:
- Fraud, including obtaining fees through fraud or misrepresentation and overtreatment either directly or through an insurance company,
- Unlicensed practice, including employing any suspended or unlicensed person directly or indirectly,
- Unlawful practice, which means “aiding or abetting licensed persons to practice unlawfully,”
- Dividing fees with another person for referring patients,
- Prescribing or administering drugs not necessary for providing dental services,
- Using threats or harassment to keep someone from providing evidence in a disciplinary action,
- Discipline in another state that results in disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of your license in another state,
- Altering patient records with intent to deceive,
- Unsafe or unsanitary office conditions,
- Abandoning a patient before completing a course of treatment,
- Using intoxicants or controlled substances while practicing if it impairs your ability to practice with “reasonable and ordinary care,”
- Practicing with a mental or physical condition that impairs your ability to practice with reasonable skill and care,
- Mishandling confidential patient records or health care information,
- Practicing beyond the scope permitted by law,
- Delegating duties to someone not qualified by training or licensing to perform them,
- Performing treatments not authorized by the patient or the patient's legal representative,
- Failing to properly supervise employees only licensed to practice under a licensed professional,
- Failure to comply with any federal, state, or local laws, statutes, rules, or regulations in the practice of dentistry,
- Exercising undue influence on a patient for financial or personal gain or the financial or personal gain of a third party,
- Misrepresenting the benefits or effectiveness of treatments,
- Failure to disclose details of a treatment, alternatives, or the professional performing them, as well as the fees associated,
- Sexual misconduct,
- Assault, including using unreasonable or damaging force, including physically restraining a patient,
- False or deceptive advertising,
- Failure to cooperate with the BOD investigation,
- Failure to provide records to a patient or patient's legal guardian, and
- Failure to comply with professional dental standards.
You could also face disciplinary action for some criminal charges or convictions, particularly fraud, violent crimes, sexual assault, and drug or alcohol use.
Investigations & Adjudication for Dental Disciplinary Actions in Idaho
The investigation and disciplinary actions for dental complaints in Idaho must follow state law, including the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act. Typically, an action will involve a:
- Recommendation to the Board of Dentistry,
- Decision of the BOD,
- A consent agreement or hearing, and
Idaho Board of Dentistry Complaint
A potential disciplinary action typically begins for an Idaho dentist when someone files a complaint with the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses (IDOPL). When IDOPL receives the complaint, they will review it to determine whether to investigate the complaint allegations. The division will examine whether the BOD has jurisdiction over those in the complaint and whether the complaint involves a possible violation of BOD rules and regulations. You will receive a copy of the complaint.
Idaho BOD Investigations
If the IDOPL determines it should investigate the complaint and has jurisdiction, it will assign an investigator. You will also be able to respond to the complaint and explain any relevant circumstances. The investigator may interview the complainant, request financial or patient records, and interview your peers or co-workers. The investigator may also request an interview in person or in writing or request additional records as a follow-up to your reply.
While it can be tempting to believe you can easily clear up any misunderstanding by responding to the BOD investigator in writing or an interview, be careful. Any written or verbal responses you give can be used against you in a BOD hearing and any future court hearings. This is why it's important to get the experienced Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm involved as soon as you receive notice of a complaint against you. The team can protect your rights and ensure you have the best possible response for the BOD investigator.
Board of Dentistry Actions on Investigations
After the investigation, the BOD will review the entire file to determine if further action is warranted and whether or not there is probable cause to believe misconduct occurred. At this point, the board will have several possible actions, including:
- Closing the complaint without further action;
- Sending an advisory or educational letter to the dentist, which is a letter setting forth the finding of misconduct and any sanctions while still allowing the dentist to practice;
- Negotiating a settlement with the dentist through a consent agreement. These agreements will often contain sanctions the parties have agreed upon, including potential suspension or revocation of a license and
- Filing formal charges, along with scheduling an adjudicatory hearing.
You should never agree to sanctions in a consent agreement or consent order without a legal review. Contact the Lento Law Firm's skilled Professional License Defense Team before signing anything.
Idaho Board of Dentistry Hearings
The Idaho Board of Dentistry, as part of the Occupational and Professional Licenses agency, cannot suspend or revoke a dental license without a full hearing unless you consent to sanctions with a consent agreement. All hearings must allow due process and comply with the Idaho Administrative Procedure Act.
If the BOD files formal charges against you, it will come in the form of an Administrative Complaint. After filing a complaint, the BOD will assign an Independent Hearing Officer to conduct an evidentiary hearing. The notice you receive will contain information about the rules and deadlines you must follow. During this process, you must be copied on all communications between the prosecutor, the hearing officer, or the BOD.
For the hearing, you can request subpoenas for documents and witnesses. Likewise, you and the prosecutor can introduce witness testimony and evidence and cross-examine the other party's witnesses. The hearing will be a formal hearing conducted with rules of evidence and procedure. That's why you should be represented by the Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team.
After the hearing, the Independent Hearing Officer will give a Recommended Order to the BOD, including findings of fact and conclusions of law. The BOD will consider the recommendations, make their final determination, and impose sanctions if needed. This final order will also contain information you will need to file an appeal under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
All decisions of the BOD become public records. If you don't appeal the matter, the BOD decision will become final, and the complaint will be closed. You can file a motion for reconsideration with the BOP within 14 days. The BOD must decide your motion to reconsider within 21 days, or it will be deemed denied. The order will become final within 14 days.
Idaho APA Appeals to the District Court
Once you've exhausted your administrative options with the Idaho BOD, you may appeal any final order with a petition within 28 days of the final order. You can file the petition in the district court in the county where:
- The hearing took place,
- The final agency action happened, or
- Where you live or work.
After filing the complaint, the BOD must send the hearing record to the court, which includes:
- all notices of proceedings, pleadings, motions, briefs, petitions, and intermediate rulings;
- evidence received or considered;
- a statement of matters officially noticed;
- offers of proof and objections and rulings thereon;
- the record prepared by the presiding officer under the provisions of section 67-5242, Idaho Code, together with any transcript of all or part of that record;
- staff memoranda or data submitted to the presiding officer or the agency head in connection with the consideration of the proceeding; and
- any recommended order, preliminary order, final order, or order on reconsideration.
The court can require the BOP to make corrections to the record. However, you can also petition the court to consider additional evidence if there was a good reason you didn't present it in the court below. For example, if the evidence wasn't available. The court may also order the BOD to consider the new evidence and modify its order accordingly. Otherwise, the court's review will be limited to the record from the BOD hearing. Your appeal should allege any disputed findings of fact and set forth any errors of law or procedure made by the BOD in your hearing.
The court's scope of review is also limited. It can't substitute its own judgment for the agency's concerning the weight of questions of fact. The court can only set aside the BOD's order if it:
- Violated constitutional or statutory provisions,
- Exceeded the BOD's statutory authority,
- Used unlawful procedure, or
- Was “arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.”
If the court doesn't affirm the BOD's decision, it can set it aside in whole or in part or remand it to the BOD for further action.
Potential Disciplinary Sanctions for Dentists in Idaho
Sanctions from the BOD disciplinary process can include:
- A warning or official reprimand,
- Ordering you to pay fines or restitution,
- Placing conditions, limitations, or supervision. requirements on your ability to practice,
- Ordering additional education or training,
- Suspending your license for a set time, or
- Revocation of your license.
Aside from disciplinary actions of the BOD, you can also have your license suspended or revoked for some criminal convictions if they're deemed relevant to the practice of dentistry. For example, some criminal convictions like fraud, sexual assault, and drug convictions may be considered relevant to your fitness to practice and could result in suspension or revocation of your dental license. Moreover, if you have a felony conviction, you must notify the BOD within 30 days of the conviction and mail a copy of the judgment of conviction to the board.
License Defense for Idaho Dentists
If you're an Idaho dentist, you've worked hard for your professional reputation. Don't let an accusation of misconduct derail your career. You need the Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team to guide you through the process and protect your rights. We've been representing dentists across the U.S. and Idaho for years. No matter where you are in Idaho, including:
- Caldwell Falls,
- Idaho Falls, and more,