Require Experienced Assistance Defending Your Dental License? The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team Can Help
Iowa residents depend on qualified dentists to maintain their oral health, whether they live in a bustling urban center or in the serene countryside. Iowan dentists are more than prepared to step up to the task. Unfortunately, when dentists in Iowa encounter unexpected or unfair disciplinary events that impact their license and affect their ability to practice, the dentists and their entire practice can suffer.
If you're facing an investigation from the dental licensing board in Iowa, you need to take that investigation seriously. You can't just assume that the truth will set you free or that (at worst) you're facing an administrative slap on the wrist if you are found responsible for a rule violation.
The stakes are much higher than that.
Dental license revocation can make it impossible for you to work in the short term and could make it extremely difficult for you to enjoy the career and reputation you've worked hard to build over the long term. After the years of education you've put into your dental career, we don't think that one claim of unprofessional conduct should ruin your future (and your finances!). That's where we come in. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is ready to advocate for your rights, engage in productive negotiations with licensing entities, and help you pursue the most beneficial outcomes.
Navigating Iowa's Dentistry Oversight: The Key Authorities in License Discipline
There are several regulatory bodies that oversee the various standards, practices, and licensure of dental professionals in Iowa.
These groups include:
The Iowa Dental Board. This Board, located in Des Moines, oversees the initial licensure of both dentists and dental hygienists. It also regulates the quality of care that dental teams provide to their communities, ensuring that all dental professionals adhere to agreed-upon ethical standards and maintain professional conduct.
In addition to general oversight, the Iowa Dental Board (often referred to as the IDB) handles any relevant complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions against dental practitioners. If you're facing license-related challenges in Iowa, the IDB will likely be heavily involved.
However, the IDB isn't the only authority to be aware of or keep in mind. Iowa's dentists should also be aware of the Iowa Administrative Code, especially Chapter 650. In this code is legal language that covers everything from the various educational requirements for dentists to the grounds for license-related disciplinary actions. If your license is on the line, knowing these requirements (or retaining our team, who knows these requirements in and out!) will be vital.
Understanding the Disciplinary Reach of the Iowa Dental Board
It's important to avoid underestimating just how powerful the IDB can be. The IDB isn't just an administrative body. It's your state's gatekeeper of dental professionalism — and, crucially, the gatekeeper of the legal ability to practice dentistry in Iowa.
- Firstly and most relevantly, the IDB has the power to issue, renew, deny, and reinstate licenses.
- Beyond licensing, the IDB can also impose penalties as needed if it identifies dentists who have been involved in unethical or unprofessional conduct. These penalties can range from fines to mandatory training, probation, or, of course, license suspension and revocation.
- The IDB will also determine when to initiate investigations into complaints against specific dentists. The IDB will oversee these investigations, conducting hearings and reviewing evidence until the Board can determine what happened and what sanctions it should recommend.
What is the True Impact of License Disciplinary Actions on Iowa Dentists?
If you lose your license, you need to realize that it could throw your entire professional career into question. It won't be as simple as paying a small fine and getting your license reinstated before anyone really realizes anything has happened.
Far from it. Being involved in license-related discipline can start ripples that have disastrous consequences for a dentist's present and future — including:
- Difficulties for their professional reputation. Iowa is a community-driven state. Word travels fast. If your professional reputation is tarnished by disciplinary actions, it can be difficult to get a new job or gain the trust of new patients. (Or regain the trust of established patients, for that matter.)
- Financial implications. With disciplinary marks against your name, you might find it difficult or impossible to keep your job, get a new one, or negotiate for better positions or pay. And, of course, you might have to pay surprisingly steep penalties or fines, which can throw your financial health into sudden uncertainty.
- Emotional stress. If you're under scrutiny through an investigation by the IDB, that will take a significant toll on your emotional and mental stress. This could impact your entire personal and professional life for the duration of the investigation and even long after.
It's entirely possible that none of these consequences will be totally merited. The IDB makes mistakes and could investigate or even sanction you based on a misinterpretation of a complaint, administrative oversights, or even personal biases. You need to make sure that the IDB follows its own processes clearly and fairly when meting out any discipline that could affect your future. The Professional License Defense Team is here to help you ensure that happens.
Grounds for Disciplinary Actions Against Dentists in Iowa
When someone files a complaint against you, one of the first things that the IDB will do is determine whether your actions are in violation of any of its regulations.
Some examples of grounds for disciplinary actions and their relevant regulations include:
- Professional incompetence. Under the Iowa Dental Practice Act, a dentist displaying a consistent lack of ability or fitness to perform their duties can be sanctioned.
- Substance abuse. If someone can allege that you're using drugs or alcohol in a way that could impact your ability to provide safe care to your patients, that could result in actions against your license.
- Unprofessional conduct. This is a broad category of potential violations. According to the Iowa Administrative Code, "unprofessional conduct" can include acts like false advertising, gross malpractice, or delegating responsibilities to unlicensed or unqualified personnel.
- Criminal convictions. Although some criminal convictions may not necessarily seem relevant to your professional practice, if you're found guilty of a felony or other crime, you could trigger an investigation by the IDB.
- Violating patient confidentiality. Keeping your patients (and their data) safe is one of the most important things a care provider can do. If your practice is associated with any breaches, unintentional or otherwise, you could be at risk for license-related sanctions.
These infractions are just some of the many ways that an Iowa dentist could be at the center of complaints and subsequent investigations by the IDB. Whether the allegations against you are true or not, you need to jump into action at once to ensure that your association with these infractions doesn't infringe upon your ability to work toward a living and provide care for your patients.
Understanding the Adjudication Process for Dentists in Iowa
What happens after someone files a complaint against an Iowa dentist?
When the IDB receives a complaint against you, here's a general timeline of what could happen.
- To start, the IDB will review the complaint against you to determine whether it merits a full investigation. At this point, the IDB could very well toss out your complaint. On the other hand, if it seems clear that you're in violation of a pertinent regulation, the IDB could decide it wants to know more.
- If the IDB thinks it's time to launch an investigation, it will do so. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the IDB may make a point to interview you, the complainant, and any relevant witnesses and even examine documents and records from your dental office. It's important to retain our team early, during the investigatory phase, if possible, because even though the IDB will not officially make decisions during the investigation, the information that comes to light can cause people to determine responsibility informally long before a formal decision is required.
- Once the IDB has completed its investigation, you will receive an invitation to a formal hearing. During this hearing, the Board will review all the information that it has collected against you. You may also have an opportunity to cross-examine any relevant witnesses. You'll have a chance to tell your side of the story, as well.
- At the end of the hearing, the IDB will determine your responsibility for the alleged infraction. The IDB will also recommend a sanction for you that should be in line with your alleged responsibility.
This can feel like the end of the road, but it doesn't have to be. If you don't agree with the IDB's assessment of your responsibility or the sanction it's recommended, you do have the right to appeal and work toward a more favorable outcome.
The Appeals Process for Iowa Dentists Facing Unfavorable Rulings
After the IDB releases its final opinion, you can appeal. This isn't an easy process — far from it. Our team can help you assess your situation to determine whether an appeal is a good idea for you or not.
If you choose to move forward with an appeal, you'll need to complete some version of the following steps:
- You'll need to provide a preliminary notice that you plan to appeal. Typically, you'll need to file this document within a very short period of time after your hearing.
- You'll need to find a strong basis for your appeal. For example, preferably, you'd be able to show that new information has come to light since the IDB's investigation that lends credence to your side of the story. Our team can help you find the best angle for your appeal and write up a persuasive argument.
- The IDB will then review your appeal before either opening the door to negotiations (which our team can handle) or reissuing its original decision. If this is the case, the official IDB appeal process will be considered finished.
- However, you still have options. Depending on your circumstances and the details of your case, you may be able to escalate your appeal to the Iowa District Court or even the Iowa Supreme Court. Each of these escalations will require a lot of strategy and detailed work, but our Professional License Defense Team is up to the task.
As soon as you are aware that the IDB will be investigating you, and certainly as soon as you know that you'll need to file an appeal, contact our team immediately. We'll put our experience to work to ensure you have the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.
Standing by Iowa Dentists: The Lento Law Firm Advantage
After you reach out to our team, we'll be able to provide unparalleled support in several key ways — including:
- Experienced guidance. Navigating Iowa dental laws can be overwhelming. Our team has a deep understanding of relevant Iowa regulations and can help guide you through your experience with minimal frustration on your part.
- Strong, reasoned representation. When you're facing the Iowa Dental Board, you need confidence and knowledge on your side! We'll be able to help you present compelling arguments in defense of you and your license.
- Deft negotiation skills. Not every case goes to trial. Our team can open lines of communication directly with the IDB to see if we can help you achieve a favorable resolution without needing to go to court.
If you live and work in any of the following Iowa major metro areas (or anywhere else!), please feel free to contact the Lento Law Firm Team:
- Des Moines
- Cedar Rapids
- Sioux City
- Iowa City
- West Des Moines
- Council Bluffs
Call 888.535.3686 today or reach out online to retain the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm.