Louisiana — the Pelican State — has a nationwide reputation for its rich culture and vibrant cities, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The state also values its healthcare professionals highly. Despite the significance and importance of healthcare professionals, such as dentists, within the state of Louisiana, dental practitioners often find themselves under intense scrutiny. Sometimes, without warning, they can face sanctions that jeopardize their ability to earn a living and serve their communities.
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't think this is fair. Hard-working dentists shouldn't have to fear losing their livelihood because of allegations that could impact their reputation and entire future, especially if those allegations are untrue.
Our Professional License Defense Team works tirelessly to help protect the professional reputations of dentists across the nation and in Louisiana. We are aware that licensing boards don't always invest in all the necessary actions to understand your side of the story. Retain our team, and we'll support you as you cut through misunderstandings, disprove false accusations, and negotiate for reduced sanctions to avoid license suspension or revocation.
Call our team today at 888.535.3686 or fill out this brief form, and the Professional License Defense Team from the Lento Law Firm will be in touch shortly.
Navigating Dental Licensure: Key Authorities in Louisiana's Dental Defense Landscape
One of the confusing things about being swept up in a dental license dispute is the sheer number of entities involved.
We're about to help with that. Whether you're practicing in Shreveport or Lake Charles, when you receive a notification that the State of Louisiana is wondering about something you've allegedly done in connection with your dental license, it'll involve the following:
- The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry — or the LSBD. This is the authority when it comes to the governing of dental practices across Louisiana. The LSBD has one simple goal: To ensure that every dentist practicing in the state adheres to the highest possible standards of patient care. The LSBD's responsibilities include licensing, regulation enforcement, and attending to complaints against dentists and dental professionals in Louisiana.
- The Dental Practice Act of Louisiana. This Act provides information about the various qualifications, standards, and professional requirements that all Louisiana dentists must realize, apply for, and follow when practicing dentistry in Louisiana. (It also discusses the types of offenses that could trigger the state's disciplinary system.)
Being aware of these two governing systems and groups is vital for dentists in Louisiana. But, while staying informed is important, using the information within that Act or interpreting the regulations held by the LSBD can be very difficult. Our license defense attorneys on the Lento Law Firm Team will be ready to help you understand your rights and hold the LSBD to its own standards when you're going through a disciplinary experience.
Are You Under the Spotlight? The Authority the LSBD Has Over Your Dental Practice
The LSBD isn't just an administrative group. It holds real power regarding the regulations and standards of dental care — certainly in regards to upholding those standards.
Here are some of the areas of authority the LSBD wields:
- License issue, renewal, and revocation. When dentists first apply for the ability to practice in Louisiana, they'll file an application directly with the LSBD. The LSBD reviews application information, determines who gets licenses, and can (under certain circumstances) take that privilege away.
- Investigation of complaints. Any complaints against a specific dentist will end up in front of the LSBD. The LSBD will review complaints, determine whether the complaints warrant an investigation, and then initiate investigations as it deems fit.
- Recommendation of sanctions. The LSBD will review the information that comes from its investigation. If the LSBD believes that the dentist in question has violated the Dental Practice Act or another regulation held by the LSBD, the LSBD can recommend sanctions ranging from a simple written reprimand to full license revocation.
For these reasons, it's critical to avoid ignoring or underestimating the importance of notifications from the LSBD. After all, license-related disciplinary actions can lead to a lot of avoidable misfortune for Louisiana dentists.
The High Stakes of License-Related Discipline for Louisiana's Dental Practitioners
Let's take a quick look at the reasons why you need to avoid losing your license. As it turns out, the stakes are far greater than a simple administrative slap on the wrist:
- Your reputation is everything. Whether you're brightening smiles in Monroe or Metairie, your professional reputation is what earns you respect from both your colleagues and your community. If you earn any disciplinary actions, even if it is minor or the accusations against you are baseless, that could leave a permanent stain on your record.
- You could lose your ability to earn a living. Even if it's for a brief period of time, not being able to earn a paycheck could lead to disastrous repercussions for your financial future. Even if you don't lose your license, you could have to pay hefty fines that seriously affect your business and personal finances.
- The emotional and psychological impact of your disciplinary experience could follow you for years. Losing your license or being threatened with license revocation is incredibly stressful. The uncertainty associated with this type of event can affect your personal life and your professional performance.
And, to make matters worse, you can't exactly assume that simply telling the truth will set you free. The LSBD makes mistakes — and, as we'll get to in a moment, the Board doesn't necessarily have to prove that you're responsible for the allegations against you beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The LSBD also has vast resources at its disposal to investigate and prosecute your case if the Board believes it's worth it to do so. You have significantly fewer resources. You need a way to level the playing field. That's where we come in: Retain the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, and we'll be ready to help you advocate for your future throughout the entire disciplinary process.
What Are the Grounds for Sanctioning in the Dental Practice in Louisiana?
There are several ways a dentist in Louisiana could risk losing their license. Here are just a few:
- License irregularities. If someone can allege that you are practicing dentistry without a valid license or that you're engaging in professional activities outside of the scope of your license, you could risk sanctions.
- Professional misconduct. This is a wide category of potential violations, which may include anything from gross negligence to unethical behavior. If the state alleges that you're involved with professional misconduct, make sure you ask further questions.
- Prescription abuse. Under Louisiana's Controlled Dangerous Substances Law, dentists who misuse, overprescribe, or otherwise divert controlled substances can face severe sanctions.
- Engaging in fraudulent activities. Whether it's misrepresentation of your professional licensure, false advertising, or defrauding a patient, in Louisiana, dentists who engage in deceitful or fraudulent actions are at risk of disciplinary action.
- Continuing education violations. If you fail to keep up with your mandated continuing education, the Board may be able to recommend penalties that could impact your license.
When you learn that the LSBD is considering investigating you for one of the above, don't shrug off that information. Instead, contact our team. We will help you learn more about the allegations and what Louisiana state law has to say so you can start to prepare your strongest possible defense.
The Adjudication Process for Dentists in Louisiana
Let's say that the LSBD has received a complaint against you from a peer, an auditor, a patient, or someone else. What then?
Here's the general process you can expect:
- Complaint review. The LSBD will begin by reviewing the allegation to determine whether it warrants an investigation. Often, at this stage, the LSBD will simply throw out complaints that don't seem valid.
- An investigation. If the LSBD's review makes the group want to learn more, they will initiate an investigation. This can involve a wide range of activities, including interviews with all involved, review of records, and even discussions with potential witnesses.
- A hearing. If the LSBD finds sufficient evidence against you, it will send you a notice of charges and invite you to a formal hearing. At this hearing, the LSBD will present and review the evidence against you. You will have a chance to tell your side of the story as well.
- A decision. At the end of the hearing (or very shortly afterward), the LSBD will make a decision about your responsibility for the allegations against you. It will then communicate this decision to you.
- Appeals. You don't have to take the Board's decision as final! If you don't agree with the Board's decision or recommendations, you can formally appeal to ask the Board to reconsider or ask for reduced sanctions.
How Can Louisiana Dentists Appeal an Unfavorable Ruling?
Our team can help you assess your decision to determine if an appeal is a good next move for you. (Often, we can also assist with more informal negotiations.)
If you do need to file an appeal, it's good to know what lies ahead. During the course of your appeal, you may:
- File an official notice of appeal within a specific amount of time after the LSBD has released its decision.
- Work closely with our team to unearth new evidence (if possible) or otherwise find a strong basis for your appeal.
- Submit all appeal-related documents to the LSBD.
The LSBD will review your appeal and issue an updated decision — or uphold its original one.
If you are still unsatisfied with the outcome of your disciplinary experience, you can escalate your appeal to the Louisiana appellate courts. If your case requires it, you can even take your case to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Our team will be there for you at every step along the way to ensure that you understand your options and are taking the most strategic moves possible toward your future.
Here's Exactly How the Lento Law Firm Team Can Help You
When licensing challenges arise for Louisiana dentists, anywhere from Lake Charles to Kenner, our team is ready to provide tailored, targeted assistance.
Our readiness to help is particularly helpful when you consider precisely what you're up against in an administrative hearing. As opposed to many legal evidentiary standards, such as allegations that need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, in your hearing, the standard will likely be "a preponderance of the evidence." This means that the LSBD only needs to demonstrate that it's more likely than not that a violation occurred (and that you're responsible for it).
This makes it much easier that the state will be able to bring a case against you and even recommend strong discipline. Since our team is innately familiar with the intricacies of Louisiana dental laws and regulations, we're ready to help provide:
- Strategic guidance. We have years of experience in this field, which can help us anticipate any concerns the Board may have.
- Evidence gathering. We'll help you gather supporting testimonies and documentation to strengthen your case.
- Reasoned representation. We'll help you present your side of the story persuasively and logically.
- Deft negotiation skills. We'll help you proactively reach out to the decision-makers in your case to navigate your disciplinary process as strategically as possible.
If you live and work in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Metairie, Kenner, or any other area within Louisiana, the Lento Law Firm Team is ready to help you protect your reputation and your future. To secure your comprehensive consultation with the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm, call 888.535.3686 at once. Alternatively, you can reach out to us online, and our team will respond promptly.