Defense of Licensure and Disciplinary Actions Before Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. assists dentists, dental hygienists, and dental radiation technologists who face the loss of their livelihoods due to actions or potential actions taken by the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners. Like all states, Maryland strictly regulates who may practice dentistry. While such regulations are necessary to protecting the public’s health, as a dental practitioner, you also have certain due process rights that the Board must respect before taking any adverse action against you.
At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., our experienced Maryland professional licensing attorneys can provide you with vigorous representation before the Board and, if necessary, through the appellate process in the Maryland courts.
Having experienced counsel at your side is critical during these proceedings. The legal team at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., understands the complex nature of these licensing proceedings, and we will make sure the Board does not rush to judgment against you.
When Can the State Deny, Revoke, or Suspend My Dental License?
The State Board of Dentistry has wide discretion to deny, suspend, or revoke a license, as well as to place an existing license holder on probation for a number of years. Some of the criteria that may trigger an adverse licensing action include:
- Conviction, including a guilty or “no contest” plea, to any felony or “crime involving moral turpitude”;
- Practicing dentistry while under the influence of alcohol or using any kind of “controlled dangerous substance” without proper medical authorization;
- Engaging in any kind of fraudulent or deceptive act in connection with obtaining a dental license;
- Having a previously issued dental license revoked or suspended by any jurisdiction outside of Maryland;
- Practicing dentistry under a name, including a business or trade name, other than that on the actual license;
- Allowing an “unauthorized” or unlicensed individual to practice dentistry within the practice;
- Allowing a dental hygienist to operate in an “unauthorized place” or without proper supervision by a licensed dentist;
- Demonstrates mental or physical incompetence;
- Engages in conduct that deviates from “generally accepted professional standards of care in the practice of dentistry”;
- Filing a false report, or willfully failing to file a legally mandated report, in connection with a dental practice;
- Filing a false bill to an insurance company or other third party payer;
- Approving any kind of “misleading, deceiving, or untruthful” advertising in connection with the dental practice;
- Failing to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandatory guidelines for preventing the spread of infections, except in emergency or life-threatening situations; and
- Willfully and without legal justification, failing to cooperate with a lawful investigation conducted by the Board.
In addition to these standards for dentists, all dental professionals requiring a license, including hygienists and radiation technicians, may face disciplinary action if they fail to pay any court-ordered child support. The State Board of Dental Examiners is required by law to automatically suspend a license when any child support enforcement agency in Maryland provides notice of “delinquent” support payments. This is not a discretionary act, and the Board cannot reinstate a suspended license in these cases unless and until the child support agency provides notice that the license holder is current on his or her obligations.
What Happens After the Board Suspends My License?
Depending on the circumstances, the State Board of Dental Examiners may “summarily” suspend your license to practice. That is to say, the Board can “suspend first, ask questions later.” Summary suspensions occur when the Board has reason to believe the public’s health may be in immediate danger. This frequently occurs when there are allegations that a licensed dentist failed to follow the proper CDC protocols to prevent the spread of infections.
In these situations, the Board will typically ask a CDC-certified expert to conduct an inspection of the accused dentists’ office. The inspector may observe patient care directly and demand to see documentation of the office’s sanitary care practices. Any evidence gathered in the course of this inspection can be used against you in a subsequent Board hearing.
This is why, if your license is summarily suspended for any reason, you need to call an experienced Maryland professional license defense attorney. In many cases a summary suspension is only temporary. By taking a proactive stance, including responding to any concerns raised by a complaint or inspection, the Board may ultimately reinstate your license under certain probationary terms. Having experienced counsel at your side is critical during these proceedings. The legal team at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., understands the complex nature of these licensing proceedings, and we will make sure the Board does not rush to judgment against you.
There are cases in which probation or a negotiated settlement is not possible. Under Maryland law, you do have the right to request a contested hearing. Such hearings are not held in the regular civil courts, however, but before an administrative law judge appointed by the State of Maryland. The ALJ will conduct a hearing that is similar to a civil trial. A Board-appointed prosecutor will attempt to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that you violated state dentistry laws.
Also, unlike normal civil trials, the ALJ’s authority itself is subservient to that of the Board. In other words, once the ALJ issues a preliminary decision, both you and the prosecutor may ask the State Board of Dental Examiners to make changes before issuing a final decision. If the Board ultimately rules against you, only then do you have the right to seek judicial review through the circuit and appellate courts.
How Can Our Maryland Professional License Defense Lawyers Help?
Administrative hearings often take months to complete, and that is without factoring in any time for judicial review. At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C., we are prepared to handle your case from start to finish. We understand the hardship imposed when you are facing the potential loss of your practice, income, and reputation. That is why Attorney Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford and his Maryland-based trial team will leave no option unexplored when it comes to the defense of your dental license. If you are in trouble with the State Board of Dental Examiners, contact us online or call us at 410-514-6099 to discuss your licensing issue with a qualified Maryland professional licensing attorney today.