Quasi-judicial bodies existing in every state, dental boards carry the power to establish license and permit fees, levy fines and mete out punishment. Doctors ignore dental board actions at their peril, according to John Bitting, a regulatory attorney with DOCS Education. "Just as states differ, so do characteristics of dental boards," Bitting adds. "In general, however, their job is to produce and enforce regulations in order to protect the public. And it's not hard to see how over-regulating can be perceived by individual board members as simply being productive." Bitting is among a handful of lawyers nationally who specialize in dental sedation regulations. Unfortunately, over-regulation generally promotes a welter of confusing and even self-contradictory information, making it a challenge for even the most attentive dentists to comply. "We've had a recent series of incidents where board staff provided facts and guidance that directly contravened their own written regulations. While I am happy to intercede on behalf of DOCS Education members to clarify these matters, it's regrettable that they occurred in the first place," Bitting says. In one Western state a dentist was told by the board staff that he could not use sedatives sublingually on his patients. "This was patently untrue and easily remedied when I pointed out that their own regulations expressly state this is permissible." The trend toward escalating and/or revised regulation isn't likely to end soon, Bitting predicts, who adds that collateral damage often occurs as well. "We're aware of several states that lack the manpower, expertise and even the transparency to appropriately carry out the mandated inspection of sedation dentistry offices. This is naturally very distressing and frustrating to dental practices already carefully following established standard-of-care protocols and standards." States range "all over the map," when it comes to training requirements, Bitting believes. "Some states require too little training for some types of sedation care, others way too much." Among the areas destined to take center stage in coming months are prescription monitoring programs, Bitting predicts. "'Doctor-shopping,' where patients seek drugs such as VicodinTM and OxyContinTM has grown into a major health problem. The states of Florida and Washington are leading the field in the design and execution of these programs and many more states are following suit." To learn more this topic, sign up for "What dentists should know about their dental boards," a short online CE course led by John Bitting.

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 3250 Airport Way S, Suite 701 | Seattle, WA 98134. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.
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