The Lento Law Firm: Defending Your Dentistry License in Colorado
As a licensed dentist in Colorado, it can be quite distressing to learn that a complaint has been lodged against you with the Colorado Dental Board. And rightly so: the Board has an obligation to protect the public, and they must therefore investigate all complaints thoroughly. You've worked harder than most people to build your career--after all, becoming a dentist in itself is no easy feat. And yet, a single complaint could potentially derail all you have worked for. If the investigation into the complaint convinces the Board that wrongdoing even likely occurred (even if not conclusively proven), they have the authority to suspend or even revoke your dentistry license.
Thankfully, you're not without recourse. By hiring a seasoned professional license defense attorney early in the disciplinary process, you can greatly increase the odds of keeping your dentistry license. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm boasts a wealth of experience in defending dentists and other licensed professionals across Colorado and nationwide. We understand how the license disciplinary process works in Colorado, and we can leverage that knowledge to help you obtain a more favorable outcome--one that could very well save your career. To arrange a consultation, please contact us at 888-535-3686 or complete the online form.
Regulation of Dentists in Colorado
The Colorado Dental Board bears the responsibility of overseeing the practice of dentistry in Colorado. The Board itself falls under the umbrella of the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO), which administers licensure and discipline for more than 55 professions across the state. The Dental Board maintains the authority to grant licenses, enforce practice standards, and implement disciplinary actions as required, including license suspension or revocation.
What Types of Allegations Could Result in Loss of Your Dentistry License?
The standards, rules, and regulations under which licensed dentists operate in Colorado are contained in the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Practice Act, along with related statutes and the Dental Board's own Rules and Regulations. Most accusations resulting in license revocation involve some alleged violation of these rules and standards. Common allegations include, but are not limited to:
- Fraudulent Practices: Fraud can take many forms, including insurance claim “upcoding,” overcharging patients or insurers, billing for services that were never provided, practicing without a valid license, or accepting referral kickbacks.
- Improper Relationship with a Patient: Engaging romantically and/or sexually with a patient under your care is considered a severe ethical breach and can result in license revocation.
- Substance Abuse/Addiction: Abusing drugs and/or alcohol can raise questions about your ability to make sound judgments when treating patients, and in certain instances, it can serve as a basis for license revocation—particularly if you're reported to be under the influence while at work.
- Gross Negligence: Possible examples of negligence include making inaccurate or incomplete patient diagnoses, errors in prescribing medication or dosages, failure to provide necessary follow-up treatments, or incompetently executed procedures causing harm to patients.
- Criminal Convictions: Specific criminal offenses, especially felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude, can disqualify you from holding a dentist's license in Colorado.
Do All Accusations of Misconduct Lead to License Suspension or Revocation?
No, not all do. The Board looks at many factors when deciding on disciplinary action against dentists, and they may choose to impose milder sanctions that still enable you to retain your dentistry license. These include:
- Practice Restrictions: The Board might prohibit you from performing certain functions.
- Probation: The Board might place you under strict supervision for a time.
- Monetary Penalties: The Board can levy fines for violations of regulations.
- Continuing Education Requirements: If the alleged violation stems from education gaps, the Board may require you to take CE courses as a requisite for keeping your license.
- Letter of Admonition: For minor infractions, the Board might issue a formal citation, which becomes part of your record but does not restrict your license.
However, even these lesser penalties can negatively affect your career because they become part of your public record, which may be accessible to potential patients, employers, healthcare institutions, and licensing boards in other states. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can intervene early in the investigation process to minimize these risks and possibly prevent sanctions from appearing on your record.
National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB)
The Board not only publicizes disciplinary actions against your license but is also obliged to report such measures to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). This national database collects and disseminates relevant information regarding medical professionals, including dentists. The database is accessible online by potential employers and state licensing boards, and a negative report can potentially impact your prospects of obtaining licensure in a different state or attaining employment. Early intervention once again proves vital here as the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can frequently negotiate to settle licensing board issues or reduce penalties before such reports are made.
Our Service Areas in Colorado
Colorado is home to 5.2 million people, thus offering a wealth of opportunities for dentists to serve communities across the state. The Lento Law Firm Team can assist dentists in virtually every part of the state, but most of our clients understandably practice within the state's major population centers. These include but are not limited to:
Denver serves as the state capital of Colorado as well as its largest city. While the population of Denver proper is just over 711,000, the city anchors one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, encompassing suburban communities like Aurora, Arvada, Broomfield, Lakewood, etc., with a combined metro population of nearly 3 million. Nicknamed the “Mile High City” for its elevation of exactly 5280 feet, Denver serves as a major gateway to the Rocky Mountains, while the metro area's robust economy spans sectors like aerospace, telecommunications, and technology.
Colorado Springs, located at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant cultural scene. It's the state's second-largest city (population 484,000), offering a wealth of outdoor activities and attractions throughout the year, including the famed Garden of the Gods Park, Pikes Peak, and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.
Fort Collins/Northern Front Range
Fort Collins, situated along the Cache La Poudre River in Colorado, is a vibrant college town known for its charming old town, outdoor activities, and thriving craft beer scene. As part of the Northern Front Range, Fort Collins offers easy access to the stunning Rocky Mountains, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. The city is home to Colorado State University, contributing to a youthful energy and a strong emphasis on education and innovation. Nearby Loveland, also part of the Northern Front Range, is renowned for its thriving arts scene and picturesque landscapes.
Located just north and west of Denver, the City of Boulder nestles against the recognizable “Flatirons” of the Rocky Mountains. Bolstered by lovely natural surroundings and a vibrant economy, Boulder is recognized as a hotspot for tech startups and nature enthusiasts alike. It houses a dynamic cultural scene with an array of music, art, and theater options.
Grand Junction/Western Slope
Grand Junction, the largest town on the Western Slope of Colorado, is known for its scenic desert and mountain landscapes. It's a great place for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the Grand Mesa, Colorado National Monument, and other popular areas. The city also serves as an important hub of commerce and education along the Western Slope while offering a myriad of cultural attractions like art galleries, museums, and performing arts centers.
The Disciplinary Process for Dentists in Colorado
The Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO) has established a systematic approach for enforcing disciplinary actions for licensed professionals in Colorado, including dentists. If you're accused of misconduct, your case will move through the following steps.
The disciplinary process kicks off when someone files a complaint against you with the DPO. Any member of the public can file a complaint, but for dentists, complainants are usually patients, their families, colleagues, other healthcare practitioners, etc.
Once the complaint is reviewed and verified that it falls within the purview of the DPO, an investigation ensues. Minor offenses may be handled directly by the Dental Board, but more serious allegations are typically referred to the DPO's Office of Investigations. An investigator will be tasked with fact-finding to ascertain whether there's enough evidence to support the complaint. This stage usually involves interviewing the complainant and potential witnesses, subpoenaing pertinent documents, and other investigative endeavors.
Board Review and Decision
Next, the Dental Board will review the investigator's findings to see whether there is probable cause of wrongdoing. If the Board determines disciplinary action is justified, they will either refer the case to the Office of Expedited Settlement (to negotiate a settlement with you) or to the Office of the Attorney General (for a formal hearing).
If the investigation uncovers compelling evidence of misconduct, the case may be referred to the Office of Expedited Settlement (ESP) to negotiate a resolution based on the Board's findings. (This is akin to a “consent agreement” or “consent order” process adopted by many states.) If you concur with the terms and the determination, you'll sign a stipulation agreeing to comply with the Board's recommended actions. Although this is essentially an admission of guilt, it also presents an opportunity to negotiate for more lenient terms and/or a roadmap toward restoration of your credentials. The Lento Law Firm Team can play a crucial role in negotiating favorable terms at this stage.
If no expedited settlement is offered or agreed to, the matter is forwarded to the Attorney General for a formal hearing. It's highly recommended that you have legal representation at this hearing, as it's your last chance to present your version of events backed by any supporting evidence. Depending on the hearing's outcome, the Board may revise its decision and/or determine a different course of action.
The disciplinary process is officially over once all parties have reached an agreement or a final verdict has been delivered following hearings and appeals. At this point, you must adhere to any imposed sanctions or other stipulations as required.
Throughout this disciplinary process, there are several opportunities where a skilled license defense attorney can negotiate a positive resolution. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can leverage strong negotiation skills to help you obtain a more favorable outcome during the disciplinary process. Their intervention often helps licensees avoid a formal hearing.
Why You Need an Attorney to Defend Your Colorado Dentist's License
In matters of license defense, there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence. While you have the right to represent your own interests before the Board and/or the DPO, bear in mind that the Board's objective is to safeguard public health and safety at all costs. They only need to establish your guilt based on the preponderance of the evidence to impose disciplinary action against you. This effectively puts you at a strategic disadvantage going into the process. Engaging a skilled license defense attorney can level the playing field and significantly bolster your chances of emerging from the disciplinary process with your dentistry license unscathed.
The Professional License Defense Team of the Lento Law Firm can assist in the following ways:
- Evaluate the complaint and evidence against you and formulate a strategic plan of defense;
- Advise you on your options and the most effective strategy to resolve your case;
- Gather evidence and summon witnesses in your defense;
- Negotiate with the Board at numerous stages to get the complaint dismissed or negotiate favorable terms with an expedited settlement and
- Defend you vigorously at the formal hearing, if necessary.
Protect Your Colorado Dentistry License With Help From the Lento Law Firm
Whether the complaint against your dentist's license is based on a misunderstanding, misstep, or a flagrantly false accusation, the risk to your license and career is tangible and real. By engaging our Professional License Defense Team at the earliest hint of trouble, you greatly improve your chances of negotiating a more favorable outcome, ideally one that saves your license. The Lento Law Firm Team has nationwide experience defending dentists and other licensed professionals successfully, even in complex or challenging situations. To discuss your case and explore your options, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us via our online form.