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Howell, Buchan & Strong - Professional License Defense Attorneys in Florida

Nine out of 10 Dentists Recommend Lifetime Ban for Inadequate Recordkeeping

March 18, 2022
Est read time: 3 minutes

Nine out of 10 dentists might recommend ColgateTM, but the same ratio recently upheld a lifetime ban on a dentist's license for failure to maintain adequate patient records. It's a real-life example of how a dentist can lose his or her license. And how recordkeeping practices can be legally unacceptable as a standard of care for the dental profession.

In a recent meeting of the Florida Board of Dentistry, the board entertained a petition by a former dentist who years ago received a lifetime ban from ever seeking a license to practice dentistry again. In this meeting, the former dentist sought clemency. He asked that the final order of the board be modified from a lifetime ban to one of only 15 years. It was not granted.

The former dentist’s offense? Failure to keep adequate patient records.

How Inadequate Patient Records Can Impact Your Dental License

In the underlying administrative complaint, the board attorney alleged that the errant professional observed periodontal pocketing in several of a patient’s teeth, but failed to take note of precisely which teeth.

The patient, unable to afford the complete course of treatment recommended by the dentist, was compelled by necessity to address the most serious problems first. When the dentist performed a root canal (a more fiscally conservative treatment than the recommended post/core and crown restoration), it failed to save the tooth. However, when the malpractice was alleged, the dentist could have protected himself by documenting the recommended crown restoration and the observation of pocketing in the affected tooth which justified the course of treatment.

When the patient demanded her own records (which she is lawfully entitled to do under Florida Statutes Section 466.028(1)(n)) she was disappointed to find that they consisted of nothing more than an incomplete set of x-rays.

What Should Patient Dental Records Include?

According to the Board Attorney, to avoid a finding of dental malpractice, dentist’s records SHOULD include:

  • Patient histories
  • Examination results, including:
    • Diagnostic notes,
    • Recorded symptoms,
    • Teeth charting to indicate teeth affected by observed symptoms
  • Adequate radiographs,
  • A recommendation of the optimal treatment (crown restoration)

Based on his failure to follow the basic requirements of patient dental recordkeeping, the Board of Dentistry determined the dentist committed malpractice. Note: The Board of Dentistry did not arrive at whether a root canal was the best procedure to be performed by the dentist under the circumstances. Instead, his poor recordkeeping proved he was responsible for malpractice.

Protecting Your Professional License with Competent Legal Counsel

His lost dental license could have been avoided with better handling of his legal situation. Unfortunately, he ignored the emergency suspension ordered by the Board of Dentistry and in defiance, continued his dental practice. The Board of Dentistry frowns on malpractice, but even more so blatant disobedience. They brought another administrative complaint against his dental license which he believed fighting would be futile. To avoid further consequences, he relinquished his license with a promise to never seek another one.

How Howell, Buchan, & Strong Helps Dentists

A dentist under our legal counsel would have been advised...

  • How to respond to an administrative complaint.
  • What documentation to provide the Board of Dentistry in response to an administrative complaint.
  • On industry standards of how to bring recordkeeping practices into compliance with the administrative interpretation of the standard of care set forth in Section 466.028(1)(m), Florida Statutes.
  • On the best possible approach we use to plead their case against the allegations of dental malpractice alleged by the board.
  • On stategic plan for reaching a settlement that would have preserved their dental license and livelihood.

The standard for keeping adequate patient dental records is high and failure to do so can leave you liable for malpractice and can even result in the revocation of your license.

Trust experienced legal teams to preserve your professional license. If you are facing an administrative complaint from the Board of Dentistry, you need the protection an experienced health care administration attorney can provide.

Questions about dental licensing in Florida? View the Florida Board of Dentistry licensed dentist FAQ.

The experienced legal team of Howell, Buchan, & Strong can help you respond to and prepare your arguments to protect your license and livelihood.

Have questions about your professional license? Contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan, & Strong at 850-877-7776 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Our firm represents licensed professionals statewide. 

Orlando (407) 717-1773 | Tallahassee (850) 877-7776 | Tampa (813) 833-6726 | Sarasota (941) 779-4348

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