Dental patients have a right to expect a professional standard of care from their dentist and dental hygienist. As the agency responsible for regulating the dental profession and protecting the public in matters related to dentistry, the Board will investigate complaints and take appropriate action.
The Board does not become involved with fee disputes between patient and dentist.
The Complaint Process
The law requires all dental complaints to be submitted to the Board in writing and signed by the person making the complaint. Additionally, each complaint must identify the specific person or organization against whom the complaint is made. Facts relating to the complaint and supporting documents must be verified as the truth by the signature of the complainant. The complaint must also contain contact information for the individual making the complaint.
Patient complaints received in writing at the Board office will be assigned a case number and will be assigned to a staff investigator. The complaint and findings of fact from the investigation will be reviewed by the Law Enforcement Committee at its next scheduled meeting. If the committee determines that no law has been broken, the complainant will receive notification from the Board.
If the Law Enforcement Committee believes a law may have been broken, the Board can file formal charges against a dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant, and an administrative hearing may be held. A formal hearing involves lawyers, a court reporter, a hearing officer, and witnesses. If the Board finds that the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant has not met the prescribed standard of care and conduct, it has the authority to impose penalties ranging from an agreed order to the suspension or revocation of a license or registration.
Outcome of a Complaint
The complaint process is a detailed and careful one and the complainant should expect some delay. In every case, the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant will be informed that a complaint has been filed, the name of the complainant, and the disposition of the complaint, and the individual or organization complained about will have the opportunity to respond in writing to the Board.
Not every complaint results in disciplinary action by the Board, particularly if the dentist or dental hygienist has not violated the laws governing dentistry. If charges are filed, an administrative hearing may be held; an administrative hearing is similar to a court trial and is open to the public.
Witnesses and complainants may be subpoenaed to provide testimony regarding the case. In this event, the Board's attorney will provide assistance to witnesses and complainants in preparing for the hearing. If the Board orders a specific sanction, the dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant has the right to appeal, and the final decision may be delayed in the courts.
Decisions to dismiss or settle cases or propose disciplinary measures are solely the decision of the Board and may be subject to review by the courts.
If the Board files formal charges or takes formal action against a dentist or dental hygienist, those documents will become public record, which can be viewed by any individual upon request. The record may include the written complaint, transcripts or reports of interviews, letters, and other reports. All testimony and evidence admitted in a formal hearing also have the status of a public record. Patient records obtained in the process of the investigation are protected from disclosure as a public record.
Complainants may be kept informed throughout the various stages of the complaint process, and will be advised of the final outcome. However, to protect the integrity of the investigative process, the Board will not release any information or comment on any complaint until it has concluded its investigation.
Patient monetary compensation is not a responsibility of the Board. If complainants are unable to reach an acceptable settlement with a dentist, dental hygienist, or registered dental assistant and/or their representative, the complainant should seek independent legal advice.
Filing a Complaint
Print, complete and sign a detailed complaint form, providing all pertinent information. Also, sign and date an Authorization for Release of Medical and Dental Records form giving the Board permission to look at the appropriate records, if necessary. Both of these forms are available in the following document:
Complaints Should Be Mailed To:
Kentucky Board of Dentistry
312 Whittington Pkwy Suite 101
Louisville, KY 40222
or faxed to the Board office at (502) 429-7282