The Lento Law Firm Can Defend Your Dental License in Connecticut
For any licensed professional, the prospect of having your professional license suspended or revoked can be immensely intimidating. After all, your livelihood hinges on your license. Unfortunately, as a dentist licensed in Connecticut, even a single accusation of misconduct filed with the Connecticut State Dental Commission can trigger a highly disruptive investigation that could potentially result in disciplinary actions.
For you, the path to becoming a licensed dentist was challenging enough. The last thing you need is for a misunderstanding or misstep to result in a challenge to your license. And yet, it happens every day to well-meaning licensed professionals across the country. In Connecticut, the State Dental Commission has the authority to suspend or revoke a license based only on a preponderance of the evidence.
The best way to avoid these outcomes is to act quickly and involve a qualified professional license attorney as soon as possible. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm boasts years of experience in defending dentists and other licensed professionals across Connecticut and nationwide. We possess an in-depth understanding of the license disciplinary process in Connecticut, and we can leverage this experience to mitigate potential harm to your career. To schedule a consultation, call us at 888-535-3686.
Regulatory Supervision of Dentists in Connecticut
The practice of dentistry in Connecticut is regulated by the state's Dental Practice Act, which establishes practice standards, rules of conduct and authorizes disciplinary action for violations. The Connecticut State Dental Commission is responsible for the licensure of dentists and the enforcement of practice standards. The Commission, in turn, falls under the administration of the Department of Public Health (DPH), which regulates more than 70 distinct professions related to public health--including all healthcare professionals.
What Accusations Could Result in Dental License Revocation?
Most instances in which licensed dentists in Connecticut can lose their license stem from various violations of the Dental Practice Act or other violations of the public trust. Common examples include, but are not limited to:
- Fraudulent Practices: Fraud can take many forms, such as insurance claim “upcoding,” billing for services not rendered, practicing without a valid license, exceeding the scope of practice for your license, or accepting referral kickbacks.
- Sexual Misconduct: Engaging in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a patient under your care is considered a severe ethical breach and can lead to license termination.
- Substance Abuse/Addiction: Substance abuse can call into question your ability to make judicious decisions while treating patients, and in certain circumstances, it can serve as a basis for license revocation. In addition, Connecticut law mandates that healthcare workers report any instance in which another healthcare worker appears to be impaired.
- Gross Negligence: Possible negligence cases include flawed or incomplete patient diagnoses, errors in prescribing medication or dosages, failure to provide required follow-up treatments, or improperly executed procedures causing harm to patients.
- Criminal Convictions: Certain criminal offenses, particularly felonies and crimes of moral turpitude, can disqualify you from holding a dentist's license in Connecticut.
Potential Lesser Penalties for Misconduct
Not every allegation of misconduct leads to license suspension or revocation. The Commission weighs numerous factors when determining disciplinary action against dentists, and they may choose milder sanctions that still permit you to retain your dental license. These include:
Practice Restrictions: The Commission may bar you from performing certain tasks.
Probation: The Commission may impose strict monitoring for a defined period.
Fines: The Commission can levy fines for regulatory infringements.
Formal Reprimand: For minor infractions, the Commission may issue a formal reprimand, which becomes part of your record but does not limit your license.
Keep in mind, however, that even if the Commission imposes one of these minor penalties, they can still negatively affect your career as they become part of your public record, potentially visible to future patients, employers, healthcare institutions, and licensing Commissions in other states. The Commission is also obliged to report these actions to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a national database of information on practicing health professionals. A negative report in this database can potentially impede your chances of obtaining licensure or securing employment in another state. Timely intervention by the Lento Law Firm Team can often assist you in avoiding or lessening penalties before such reports are submitted to the NPDB.
Areas We Serve in Connecticut
Serving as a gateway of sorts between New England to the north and New York City to the south, the State of Connecticut is small in land area but densely populated with more than 3 million residents. As such, there is a high demand for healthcare, including dental work, across the state. The Lento Law Firm Team can help dentists in every municipality, but much of our clientele is concentrated in the state's larger population centers. These include but are not limited to, the following.
The largest city in Connecticut with a population of nearly 150,000, Bridgeport, Connecticut, is a seaside city located on the Long Island Sound, offering a unique blend of urban vibrancy and coastal charm. It is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and innovative spirit, boasting a variety of attractions--including the Discovery Museum and Planetarium, Beardsley Zoo, and the historic Barnum Museum, which celebrates the life of P.T. Barnum, a famous resident and renowned showman. Its picturesque Seaside Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, offers residents and visitors alike a place to enjoy the natural beauty of the coastline.
Home to the prestigious Yale University, New Haven is recognized by many as the cultural capital of the state. Located on the shores of Long Island Sound, this city of 140,000 boasts a rich academic atmosphere complemented by a vibrant arts scene. The city's renowned museums, including the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, attract visitors from around the globe, while food enthusiasts relish the city's culinary scene.
If New Haven is considered the cultural hub of Connecticut, Stamford is one of its largest business hubs. Comparable in size to New Haven (population 137,000), Stamford is known for its thriving economy, hosting numerous Fortune 500 companies. The city's vibrant downtown area offers an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, including the Stamford Town Center and the Avon Theatre Film Center.
Not only is Hartford, Connecticut, the state capital of Connecticut but it's also known as “the Insurance Capital of the World,” serving as headquarters for a wide range of insurance companies. The city is also home to the oldest public art museum in the U.S., the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the country's oldest public park, Bushnell Park. The Mark Twain House & Museum, where the famed author once lived, is another notable attraction, drawing thousands of visitors a year. With its mix of historic landmarks, modern amenities, and dynamic arts and culture, this city of 120,000 offers a unique and diverse urban experience.
How the Disciplinary Process Works in Connecticut
The processes by which allegations against dentists are processed in Connecticut are shared by the Connecticut State Dental Commission and the Department of Health. If you're accused of misconduct, the case will move through a set of stages as follows.
Filing of a Complaint
Disciplinary proceedings almost always begin with a formal complaint filed with the DPH. This complaint can be filed by any member of the public, but for dentists, complainants are typically patients, their relatives, coworkers, other healthcare workers, and occasionally insurance firms (in cases of alleged fraud).
Once the DPH has received the complaint and confirms that it falls within its jurisdiction, the case is handed to the Department's Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Section for a formal investigation. An investigator is assigned to gather facts and look for evidence to corroborate the allegations made in the complaint. This phase may extend over several months and may involve steps such as interviewing the complainant and potential witnesses, requesting a written response from you, issuing subpoenas for documents, performing site inspections, and more. The investigator's findings are then presented to the Commission. If there isn't enough evidence to support misconduct, the case may be dismissed at this stage. (This is a point where the Lento Law Firm Team often successfully advocates for an early dismissal without further proceedings.)
In many instances, especially where the evidence is compelling, the Commission may propose to negotiate a consent agreement with you as an alternative to subjecting you to a formal hearing. This agreement is a legally enforceable contract in which you admit to the alleged misconduct and voluntarily comply with the Commission's suggested disciplinary measures. This approach may not be suitable for everyone because any penalties imposed may still become part of your public record. However, the consent order does allow you and your attorney to negotiate for leniency and a favorable resolution, ideally one that either allows you to retain your practice license or provides a pathway to reinstatement. The Lento Law Firm Team can negotiate for the most beneficial terms of a consent order if this is the most appropriate course of action for you.
If your case moves to a formal hearing, you will appear before the Commission to present arguments and show cause why you should be allowed to keep your license. This is effectively your last chance to make sure your side of the story is heard and considered, so it's highly advisable to have your attorney present to advocate for you at this stage.
Final Determination by the Commission
Upon concluding the hearing, the Commission makes a final decision regarding disciplinary actions and informs you about its determinations. These measures can vary from a reprimand to license limitations to complete revocation of your dentist's license.
While this process may seem intimidating, bear in mind that at any point during the process, the Commission has the authority to dismiss the complaint against you or to agree to more lenient penalties. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can engage in strategic negotiations with the Commission at multiple points in the process to bring about a fair and swift resolution, often before things ever reach the hearing stage.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Defend Your Connecticut Dentist's License
In license defense situations, the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” does not necessarily apply. The primary objective of the DPH and the Commission is to protect public safety at all costs. They do not need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to revoke your license. You certainly have the right to represent your own interests before the Commission, but you may be entering the process at a disadvantage.
Engaging a skilled license defense attorney early in the process can level the playing field and significantly increase your chances of emerging from the disciplinary process with your license intact. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can provide assistance in the following ways:
- Evaluate the complaint and supporting evidence against you and formulate a strategic defense plan;
- Gather evidence and summon witnesses in your defense;
- Advise you on your available options and the most effective strategy for resolving your case;
- Negotiate with the Commission at various stages to seek dismissal of the complaint or negotiate favorable terms for a consent order; and
- Represent and defend you vigorously at the formal hearing, if required.
Take Action to Protect Your Dentist's License
Regardless of whether the complaint against you arises from a misunderstanding, a mistake, or an outright false accusation, the threat to your license is very real. Immediate action is your best hope to prevent these allegations from causing irreversible harm to your career. By engaging our Professional License Defense Team at the first hint of trouble, you can significantly improve the likelihood of securing a more favorable outcome, ideally one that lets you keep your license. The Lento Law Firm Team has a nationwide track record of success in defending dentists and other licensed professionals against allegations of misconduct. Don't risk your livelihood and career by going it alone. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us via our online form.