The exact wording varies from state to state, but this regulatory letter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is typical.
"Dear Doctor," it begins.
"The Prosecution Division of the Department of State’s Office of Chief Counsel, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, is conducting an inquiry into the above referenced complaint against you..."
Just in case that doesn’t grab your full attention, the letter continues: "this could result in the filing of formal charges against you, which could result in the suspension or revocation of your license(s), up to a $10,000 civil penalty per violation, and the imposition of costs of investigation."
The letter concludes, politely, "Thank you for your cooperation."
You’ve Been Served
Typically, no formal legal service is required when the letter is sent on behalf of your state dental board. By comparison, when a current or former patient of yours files a malpractice lawsuit, a process server – often a sheriff or deputy – will show up at your office and hand deliver the bad news in front of your team and patients.
In either case, know that you’re about to embark on a harrowing encounter with the regulatory or legal system; one that ensnares so many dedicated, quality dentists each year, thrusting them into a costly, time-consuming, stress-inducing labyrinth that can take weeks, months, or even years of effort to successfully navigate.
John Dovgan, DDS, SCI, alone has adjudicated more than 1,200 cases on behalf of state dental boards, and has served as an expert witness in more than 120 malpractice cases.
Dr. Dovgan’s exposure to regulatory and legal cases – as a practicing dentist and a 1303 sedation permit examiner for the State of Arizona – is only the tip of the iceberg. Although no authoritative nationwide statistics exist to pinpoint the number of dental regulatory and legal complaints filed each year, it is safe to assume that they number in the thousands.
Most of them could easily have been avoided.
As Dr. Dovgan knows from experience, nothing stalls a successful dental practice like a dental board investigation, or worse, a malpractice lawsuit. "You only need [to face a serious charge] one time in your whole practice career" to be irreparably damaged, Dr. Dovgan notes.
Worse, it’s often activities that take place every day in your practice, things that Dr. Dovgan says "you couldn’t in your wildest dreams" believe would lead to trouble, that wind up embroiling you.
SCI Investigator Dr. John Dovgan
Whether your dental board or the courts quickly dismiss a case against you, or whether you’re found responsible and must face the harsh consequences, often boils down to a single question: Did you follow the standard of care?
The question, when posed by regulatory and legal authorities, is far, far more complex than it sounds. That’s because the definition of "standard of care" is one that often proves elusive.
Dr. Dovgan, a distinguished member of the DOCS Education faculty, has studied the issue closely for more than two decades, representing both plaintiffs and defendants.
As such, Dr. Dovgan is widely considered to be America’s foremost dental expert when it comes to averting dental board reprimands and costly lawsuits.
Dr. Dovgan is an expert on the specific red flags that dental examiners look for, and the easy steps dentists and their team members can take to avoid messy investigations. While no dental practice is 100% immune when it comes to regulatory and legal actions, Dr. Dovgan is renowned for teaching dentist how to make their patients safer and practices as bulletproof as humanly possible.
Recently, when DOCS Education and Dr. Dovgan offered a one-hour webinar highlighting his proprietary standard-of-care insights, nearly 1,000 general dentists, oral surgeons, and other specialists registered. That’s a clear indication of just how many dentists are well aware that their focus should be on quality dentistry, and not defending their reputations, methods, or licenses.
For the only time in 2017, Dr. Dovgan has graciously agreed to offer a one-day, Master Series course – Avoiding Regulatory and Legal Traps – to be held in conjunction with the DOCS Education series of continuing education courses taking place in Memphis from August 18th to 20th. (Dr. Dovgan’s seven-hour CE workshop is offered on Sunday, August 20th.)
During his unique course, Dr. Dovgan will review the protocols – honed from decades of up-close experience – that he advises all dentists to follow to keep their patients safe; to best position themselves to defend against a malpractice lawsuit, should one arise; and to defuse dental board probes before they build any momentum.
"You must expect the unexpected and always be prepared for it," Dr. Dovgan observes.
Dr. Dovgan equates taking his full, one-day course to wearing a seatbelt every single time you drive.
Weeks, months, even years may pass when having a seatbelt on may seem unnecessary – because nothing happens. But when the day arrives that you do need the seatbelt – Wow, how thankful you’ll be that you were wearing it.
As dentists, the odds are overwhelming that the day will arrive when you’ll be so grateful that you completed Dr. Dovgan’s "Avoiding Regulatory and Legal Traps" Master Series course. It could very well save your professional life.
To learn more and to register, click here.
The information contained in this, or any case study post in Incisor should never be considered a proper replacement for necessary training and/or education regarding adult oral conscious sedation. Regulations regarding sedation vary by state. This is an educational and informational piece. DOCS Education accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages resulting from any direct or indirect recipient's use of or failure to use any of the information contained herein. DOCS Education would be happy to answer any questions or concerns mailed to us at 106 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.