Dentists and dental assistants in Connecticut are overseen by the Connecticut State Dental Commission. The Commission has the authority to investigate unprofessional misconduct, take disciplinary action, and conduct hearings against dentists. The Commission receives complaints from patients and other people and determines whether to move forward with investigating the allegations. Many times, the investigation leads to nowhere because the Commission finds that the misconduct did not occur, did not rise to the level of misconduct that warrants discipline, or there is not enough evidence to substantiate the allegations.
What Could Lead to an Investigation?
Criminal convictions are the biggest trigger for the Commission to begin an investigation into a dentist or practice. Criminal convictions that are substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the dentist can lead to threats to a professional license. The Commission has the authority to determine what convictions are substantially related to the duties of the dentist, but generally this term refers to crimes or acts that lead to substantial evidence that the licensee is potentially unfit to perform the job functions and that could put the public’s health and safety at risk.
Some crimes and misconduct that could trigger an investigation include:
Substance Abuse/Crimes Involving Drugs and Alcohol
Assault and Crimes Involving Violence
Crimes Involving Weapons and Firearms
Crimes Involving Children and the Elderly
If a dentist has been convicted or a crime or a misdemeanor, the Commission may consider many different factors before disciplining the licensee. These factors could include how severe the offense was, the licensee’s entire criminal record, the evidence presented against the licensee, the licensee’s compliance with probation and parole terms, other disciplinary action, and evidence that the licensee has rehabilitated. The Commission may also take into account how honest the licensee was if questioned about the criminal conviction.
Misconduct and Malpractice
There are other types of misconduct that could lead to an investigation by the Commission, including medical malpractice and other medical mistakes. Misconduct that does not result in a criminal conviction could result in disciplinary action such as negligence, substandard practice, unethical conduct, improper record keeping, and violations of confidentiality.
If the board seeks to investigate the licensee, the investigators can demand production of patient records, financial information, and other documents. It is important to remain professional throughout the investigation and not attempt to explain away the allegations to the Commission before a hearing.
The process of an investigation, hearing, and possible loss of a professional license can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for a dentist. When a person works so hard to obtain a license, a practice, a career, and a reputation, it could be scary to realize that disciplinary action could result in a loss of all of this. If you are going through this process with the Commission, we are here to help.