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Old 02-03-2004, 04:58 AM   #1
Al4 Al4 is offline
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Dental boards secrecy

Another thread mentioned difficulties with TMJD malpractice suits, and how doctors stick together and avoid testifying against each other. For those who may instead consider complaints with dental boards (US dentists), or rely too much on them to research tmj doctors, I would like to mention what I have learned the hard way.

In some states dental boards are very secretive. That is the case in Minnesota and New Mexico for instance, where I tried to research tmj doctors. They would not tell you whether there ever were any complaints against a dentist, unless they resulted in a disciplinary action. A dentist could have two dozens complaints from harmed patients, but appear completely clean on the board. In New Mexico they will not even tell you when the dentist graduated or where. You therefore cannot judge their experience or qualifications. In a few states it is a little better, as they tell you the number of complaints against a dentist. You need to check each board's policy.

Also, there may be so little State oversight on the boards, that they become fraternities for dentists. They rarely discipline one of their own. They seem to work harder at protecting each other than the public.

I would say the most reliable way to check a tmj dentist success is to talk to as many of their patients as possible. Posting in discussion forums and asking about the dentist may help, but be careful not to believe everything you read.

 
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Old 02-03-2004, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Dental boards secrecy

Hi Alex:

Wow, I'm shocked, although not altogether surprised. Medical associations stick together too, more for the protection of the doctors than patients, so why wouldn't dental associations.

As you mention, some states are better than others. When I was searching dentists, I came across a few states (sorry, can't remember which) who's dental boards had the information online about their dentists, including year licensed and any claims/suits against them.

Even if the boards are secretive and protective of their dentists, if a patient's had problems, it's still a good idea to voice a complaint. That way, if a dentist gets many complaints over the years, the dental board will reach a point where they can't ignore it. Plus, you never know when someone will come under a public enquiry, and the information would be on record.

A allergy doctor I saw as a kid, had a number of complaints against him over the years for inappropriate behaviour and touching of women patients. Well, enough women complained and the medical association had to do something about it. I read about it in the newspaper. Granted, most doctors still only end up with a slap on the hand or a few months' suspension, but it's better than nothing.

Thanks for the information.

Take care.
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:12 PM   #3
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Re: Dental boards secrecy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arleen
Hi Alex:

Even if the boards are secretive and protective of their dentists, if a patient's had problems, it's still a good idea to voice a complaint. That way, if a dentist gets many complaints over the years, the dental board will reach a point where they can't ignore it. Plus, you never know when someone will come under a public enquiry, and the information would be on record.

Take care.
Hello Arleen,

You are absolutely right. I should have been more complete in my post. I did not mean to discourage patients from filing complaints with dental boards. In fact, as you say, it is a good idea to file a complaint with the board if one is harmed. That is not as hard as filing a malpractice suit. Thank you for the clarifications.

Alex

 
Old 02-03-2004, 01:43 PM   #4
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Re: Dental boards secrecy

At the risk of "opening a can of worms", complaints against a doctor/dentist, etc. could come in many forms. While I agree that if one is "harmed" as a result of treatment, a complaint against the individual can't hurt. However, there is always that faction of patients that file complaints simply because they didn't get the desired results from the treatment, therefore they believe that the professional *must* have done something wrong. Complaints against a professional are usually judged by "what any reasonable, prudent doctor/dentist, etc. would do in the same situation" by the professional's governing body (i.e. College of Physicians & Surgeons, etc.) It would be very difficult at best to prove "intent", negligence, incompetence or that the professional *knowingly* did something wrong. Just my 2 cents (0.0267597 cents Canadian!)

Marlene

 
Old 02-03-2004, 08:51 PM   #5
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Re: Dental boards secrecy

You are right, Marlene, because it is very hard to prove intent. My personal dentist, who talked to this professional, as well as other people I know who see this professional, all find it difficult to believe when I tell them what happened. I think what really bothers me is that this professional is out there still treating people, and I just don't think the level of expertise is there. So many of the patients are children and young adults (because I'm talking about orthodontics).

My recurring advice to parents whose children are undergoing orthodontic treatment is never to let them go in by themselves. Keep track of what is being done at each visit and why. I think our tendency is to trust medical professionals, to think of them as experts, when not all of them are. My husband likes to say that someone had to graduate (from medical/dental school) at the bottom of the class (rather than the top of the class)!

Our state does post the number of complaints and a contact in that department showed some interest when I asked about the procedure - but I still don't know if it's worth the effort. I feel like I will be the one who could be discredited in the process, for the very reasons you have all suggested. I feel that even if I were to file a complaint, my records would disappear. I have already had them tell me that the models of my mouth were destroyed, when I asked that the models be sent to a specialist. (I later found that they still had the models!)

Your two Canadian cents are always very helpful, Marlene!

SueSt

 
Old 02-03-2004, 09:34 PM   #6
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Re: Dental boards secrecy

Hi Sue:

You bring up a good point - IF you're going to put in a complaint with your state or province's dental board, get a copy of all your records and xrays first.

Take care.
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