Indiana Dental License Defense Lawyer
As health care professionals, the professions of dentists and dental hygienists are carefully regulated to ensure patients experience treatment in safe and sanitary conditions by professionals who meet a certain standard of care. When a dentist or hygienist faces a claim based on professional inspections or patient complaints, the threat to their job, career, and business is at risk. To protect the years that you have invested in earning and maintaining professional licensure, dentists and hygienists in this situation will find a qualified Indiana dental license defense lawyer at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
We understand the years you invested in your education and efforts you continue to make to remain up to date on qualified to provide dental care. To protect that investment and your ability to earn a living, we work closely with you to provide a robust defense and protect your license.
Why You Should Hire an Indiana Dental License Defense Lawyer
Indiana is very serious in its regulation of those who practice in the dentistry profession, either as dentists or dental hygienists. The rigor with which the state regulates these licensed professionals can be seen in the regulatory scheme. For example, under Indiana Code § 25-14-1-24, it is a crime to practice without a valid license. In the case of a dentist, it’s a felony; for a hygienist, it’s a misdemeanor.
In addition, the law effectively deputizes citizens to help police the prohibition against practicing without a license. According to the law, any citizen may bring an action in court on behalf of the State of Indiana to enjoin a non-licensed dentist from continuing to do so in the county in which the citizen resides. Moreover, the only information the citizen must allege in their legal action is that an unlicensed dentist performed dentistry services on a particular day in the county of the citizen’s residence.
In another example, Indiana Code § 25-14-1-27 requires a licensed, practicing dentist to provide to the Indiana State Board of Dentistry (Board), upon written demand made by the Board’s secretary, the contact information for each individual practicing or assisting in the practice of dentistry in the dentist’s office, doing so within 20 days after the written demand. The dentist must also provide a sworn statement explaining the authority under which those assisting are doing so and describe the assistance provided by any unlicensed employees. Any dentist receiving such a demand from the Board should seek the services of an Indiana dental license defense lawyer. The request likely indicates a concern of the Board over the practice of dentistry in that office.
Licensure by the Indiana Dentistry Board
To provide services as a dentist or dental hygienist, both professions must complete courses of study and practical application exercises before seeking a license to practice. Once licensed by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry, you are ready to go forth and do good for patients.
But there is more to dentistry than the provision of services. There are legal and administrative sides of getting licensed and then keeping that license by complying with all of the statutes and rules governing the professions of dentists and dental hygienists.
And those requirements are extensive. Anytime healthcare-related services are being provided, there are standards in place to ensure the safety of the patients. In dentistry, the services are what one would definitely call, “up close and personal.” After all, how much closer can you get than working inside a patient’s mouth?
On top of that, pain is a common element of dental work. Patients may be in pain when first seeking treatment. Even if that is not the case, dental procedures can be pain-inducing and require pain remediation. The element of pain is one of those aspects of dentistry that leads to the establishment of standards for dentists and dental hygienists.
For example, depending on the type of pain remediation to be employed, dentists and hygienists may require special permitting by the Board. Dentists administering deep, general, or other pain moderation must have a permit to do so, and hygienists who perform local anesthetics must also have a permit.
In cases where you need help to defend your permit or license, Keffer Hirschauer LLP has an experienced Indiana dental license defense lawyer for you.
The Differences between Malpractice and License Defense
Once a dentist or hygienist is licensed in Indiana, the professional must proceed carefully in the practice of the profession. Keeping the license is contingent on meeting the state’s Health Professions Standards of Practice. Dentists may be sued for malpractice in the event of patient harm, a different matter than licensing, although it could impact licensure as well.
A dentist’s malpractice insurance carrier defends him or her against lawsuits making a claim for damages. But when it comes to license issues, malpractice insurance does not apply. Dentists and hygienists need an Indiana dental license defense lawyer.
A license is at risk when complaints are made to the Indiana State Board of Dentistry or the Board otherwise becomes aware of allegations that the practitioner has violated licensing or professional standards. There is so much to keep up with that, if you do not have an Indiana dental license defense lawyer for even the little complaints, those little complaints could stack up against you once the Board starts the process of investigating each of them.
Supervisory Responsibility over Dental Hygienists
Dentists employ dental hygienists and assistants to provide complete dental care to patients. This, too, carries with it a number of requirements for the dentist to oversee the work of these other practitioners. And the requirements of the law can be somewhat dizzying.
For example, hygienists must deliver services under the direct or prescriptive supervision of a licensed dentist. Direct supervision means that a licensed dentist must be in the facility when the hygienist is providing service. Prescriptive supervision means that a dentist need not be present but prescribed the care to be provided and follows up to ensure it was done properly. In the case of prescriptive services, the hygienist must meet certain experience requirements and other conditions involving a comprehensive oral exam by a dentist must have been met.
In the occasionally hectic pace of a modern dental practice, ensuring that all the rules are met may not always be simple. Dentists must have systems in place to make sure the staff members under direct or prescriptive supervision are employed and functioning according to the law. Missteps in the practice can lead to complaints, and, before you know it, you might have to defend yourself before the Board. Keffer Hirschauer LLP has a team of Indianapolis dentist professional liability defense lawyers who can represent and do the talking for you.
Why You Need an Indiana Dental License Defense Lawyer When Facing the Board
If complaints are made or the Board is otherwise of the opinion that a dental practice must be investigated and possibly subjected to discipline, under Indiana Code § 25-1-7-2 the Office of the Indiana Attorney General must, at a minimum, investigate the complaints. Specifically, the Consumer Protection Division of the state attorney general’s office investigates and, where appropriate, prosecutes complaints against dentists and hygienists.
Upon receiving a complaint, the Consumer Protection Division reviews the complaint and makes an initial determination as to whether the complaint has merit. If the director finds merit to the claims, it provides a copy of the complaint to the Indiana State Board of Dentistry and assumes jurisdiction over the matter. For a period of 30 days, the Consumer Protection Division takes no further action. During this time, the dentist or hygienist who is the subject of the complaint may try to negotiate a settlement with the complainant. If a settlement is reached, the Board will report the results to the director of the Consumer Protection Division.
If, however, no settlement is reached within the 30 days, the Division director may investigate the matter further. If the director’s investigation concludes that the dentist or hygienist should be subjected to disciplinary action by the Board, he or she will file a recommendation with the attorney general. The attorney general will then decide whether to proceed with prosecution of the complaint before the Indiana State Board of Dentistry or its designee. The process as a whole may last up to 60 days, but, if the circumstances deem otherwise, it could be a much longer process to endure.
The decision of the attorney general is not the final word. The Board of Dentistry is granted broad power to regulate the practice of dentistry. Consequently, even if the attorney general decides not to prosecute the complaint, the Board may override that decision by a majority vote. In that event, the attorney general is required by law to prosecute the complaint before the Board. It may be critical for your future in the profession that you have a qualified Indiana dentistry board attorney assist you through every stage of defending your license.
Types of Potential Consequences that Indiana Dental License Defense Lawyers Can Help You Avoid
If the Board determines disciplinary sanctions are in order against a dentist or hygienist, they are assessed according to the Health Professions Standards of Practice and could include the following:
- Permanent revocation of license
- Suspension of license
- License probation
- A fine of not more than $1,000
These sanctions affect the very license you spent time and money to obtain. To protect your license and your livelihood, you need one of the Indiana dentistry board lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP to fight for you. We understand the seriousness of what you are facing, and we have the insight into the process and experience to help you navigate settlement negotiations, liability matters, and proceedings before the Board.
Contact the IN Dentist Professional Liability Attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today
Whether you are a licensed dentist or a dental hygienist, there may be instances where defending your license is your only option to be able to stay in your chosen profession. Hiring an Indiana dental license defense lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP is the first step to protecting your investment in your career. To engage experienced counsel for professional license defense, call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete our contact page for a free consultation.