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Story poses questions about licensing board’s discretionary power

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2016 | Medical Licensing

For those who might question how much discretion rests with a medical licensing board, a recent story provides a stark example.

The professional in question is a New York dentist who was convicted of possession of a forged instrument. In New York, the state Department of Education oversees licensing. A spokesperson for that agency confirmed that all criminal convictions constitute professional misconduct. However, no disciplinary actions have yet been taken against the dentist.

A spokesperson for the licensing authority deflected specific questions about the apparent discrepancy, citing confidentiality. The spokesperson also noted that the agency affords due process rights to a professional accused of misconduct before taking any disciplinary actions. Finally, the spokesperson observed that the agency was not subject to a deadline for its investigations.

In Pennsylvania, the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs is the agency is that provides legal and administrative support to various state licensing boards and commissions. The licensing board that protects the health and safety of the public from fraudulent or unethical dentists is the State Board of Dentistry. Yet the analogy to the New York entity is clear: licensing authorities generally have discretionary powers, while being bound by due process.

If a dentist comes under investigation, he or she must be prepared to present or respond to evidence at the administrative hearing. Although not every investigation may progress to a hearing, it is important to consult with an attorney. It goes without saying that an investigation should be viewed as a very real threat to a dentist’s occupation and professional license. Yet even the investigation itself might seriously undermine a dentist’s credibility. An attorney can provide the appropriate response to an investigation.

Source: Daily Freeman, “Kingston dentist Nunez still has license to practice despite two felony convictions,” Patricia Doxsey, Sept. 29, 2016