Even if a dentist commits malpractice and has his license to practice taken away, it’s easy for them to simply set up shop in another state as if nothing ever happened. In Texas, all a dentist is required to do is fill out an online form when applying for a license. One of the only probative questions an online form asks is if any disciplinary action has ever been taken by another state against them. Doctors simply check “no”, and then feign ignorance of the meaning of the question if challenged. A doctor’s credibility will be questioned only after a doctor kills another patient and a zealous wrongful death attorney uncovers the dentist’s disciplinary history in an investigation. Even then it is difficult to ascertain the truth since only anonymous records are made public.
Negligent dentists have been relocating to Texas with impunity. Until recently Texas was not checking the National Practitioner Data Bank to determine if the dentist had a disciplinary record in another state. But due to the diligence of the Dallas Morning News investigating rogue dentists and the deaths they cause, Texas has been prompted to take action. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners has hired a new executive director who has pledged to check all new applications to practice dentistry in Texas. Also, the director has created a position where a person will be put in charge of investigating the disciplinary history of applicants.
According to the Dallas Morning News, there have been a number of dentists who have been fined or lost or surrendered their license due to committing dental malpractice and then simply set up shop in another state.
Dr. Craig Morris, an oral surgeon, suffocated two different patients and when the Nevada state Dental Commission investigated, he negotiated a deal to voluntarily surrender his Nevada Dental license. He was granted a license to practice in Texas.
Dr. Thomas Teich a convicted insurance fraud felon and admitted cocaine addict who had been barred in Arizona, was subsequently granted a license to practice in California.
Dr. Takashi Koyama was disciplined in Florida in 2012 with a $10,000 fine for causing the death of a patient due to failing to monitor the patient’s sedation and botching the emergency treatment. He is currently a lecturer at Nova Southeastern University.
You need to check not only the credentials but also the disciplinary history of the dentist that you are considering going to because your life or the life of your child will be in his hands. Given the lack of oversight and reporting, governments may be failing to keep rogue dentists who may have killed patients from practicing in your town.
Article and Image Credit: Original Dallas Morning News Deadly Denistry Series