As a licensed dentist in New York, you play an important role in public health for the state. Between years of study and practice, you've worked hard to become a dentist. Your dentistry license is now your livelihood, and it is important to do everything you can to keep it in good standing.
Unfortunately, a single allegation of misconduct made to the New York Office of the Professions (OP) could derail all you've worked for. The OP takes its public duty seriously; it investigates complaints against licensed professionals thoroughly, and it has broad authority to revoke the license of any dentist it deems to have violated its standards of ethics, professionalism, or safety.
You don't have to go through this situation by yourself. An experienced New York license defense attorney can help you manage the disciplinary process, safeguard your rights, and improve your chances of avoiding serious action against your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a wealth of experience helping dentists and other professionals in cases similar to yours. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case and your options.
What Types of Allegations Could Result in Losing Your Dentist's License?
Most allegations that could put a dentist's license in danger will involve an alleged violation of New York's Dental Practice Act or a violation of the public trust. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unprofessional conduct. Examples include false advertising, altering patient or financial records, filing fraudulent or incorrect insurance claims, etc.
- Sexual misconduct. Allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or unwanted sexual advances toward employees or patients could easily endanger one's license. So could having an inappropriate romantic relationship with a patient you are treating.
- Substance abuse. Alcohol or drug abuse is a leading cause of license discipline for dentists because it can inhibit judgment when caring for patients--and even if it doesn't, it causes the OP to question your competence.
- Criminal convictions. If you are convicted of a DWI or any other crime that is considered to be of moral turpitude, your dental license could be revoked. Additionally, if you fail to report an arrest to the Board, this too could result in losing your ability to practice dentistry.
- Inappropriate handling of medications. Examples might include writing prescriptions without a legitimate reason, keeping inaccurate inventory counts, or stealing medications for personal use or gain.
- Violating state standards of care. Misdiagnosing dental diseases, incompetent care, or other examples of gross negligence may be grounds for revoking your license.
What Does the Disciplinary Process Look Like for New York Dentists?
A formal complaint is the most common way to initiate disciplinary action against licensed professionals in New York. The state has standardized the procedure by which complaints can be filed. Anybody can file a formal complaint against a New York dentist through the New York Office of the Professions (OP), but most complaints against dentists are made by patients, coworkers, other practitioners, etc. Once the OP receives a complaint, the case moves through the following disciplinary stages.
To start, the OP will look into the claim to see if there is enough evidence to back it up. The investigation includes talking with the person who filed the complaint, interviewing any witnesses, reviewing documents, etc. You'll also be given an opportunity to respond to the complaint. If enough evidence is not uncovered to validate the complaint, the OP will typically end the investigation and consider the matter closed. If, however, there is enough evidence to support the claims, the matter will be referred to the NYS Education Department Board of Regents for the next steps.
If the Board has evidence against you that suggests disciplinary action is warranted, they may choose to offer you a consent order instead of going through a formal hearing. A consent order is an agreement, legally binding, in which you admit guilt and agree to the Board's proposed disciplinary actions. Although a consent order isn't always the best route, it could be helpful if it allows you to get your license back eventually.
If, in the absence of a signed consent order, the Board of Regents will then convene to review the complaint and decide if disciplinary action is necessary. The Board may summon you to attend a hearing to show cause why your license should not have been revoked. An attorney may represent you at the hearing. The Board will then issue a determination on guilt or innocence based on the preponderance of the evidence and will decide on disciplinary action, including the possibility of revoking your license.
Why You Need a New York Dentist License Defense Attorney
When someone files a complaint against you to the Office of the Professions, the process puts you at a disadvantage because there's not necessarily a presumption of innocence. The OP's job is to protect the public, and violations of ethical and professional standards constitute a threat to public safety. The OP only needs to be convinced that you're at least 51 percent likely to have committed wrongdoing to invoke disciplinary action against you--and any attempt you make to "explain" the situation could even backfire and work against you.
The best way to even the odds in this situation is to hire an experienced license defense attorney, one who understands the New York disciplinary process and what the OP and the Board of Regents are looking for. A good attorney can:
- File a convincing response to the complaint
- Accrue evidence and procure witnesses to support your case
- Negotiate directly with the OP to have the complaint dismissed or for alternative remedies to having your license revoked
- Act as your legal representative in all interactions with the OP and Board of Regents
- Negotiate favorable terms in a consent order
- Defend you at a formal hearing, if necessary
Hire a New York License Defense Attorney Today
If you're a New York dentist and you've been accused of violating ethical or professional standards, don't try to go it alone. The process is complicated, and the stakes are high. Contact an experienced license defense attorney today to discuss your case and get started on building a strong defense. The sooner you involve an attorney, the better your chances of keeping your license intact. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.