Code of Alabama

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Body:Section 34-9-18

Grounds for disciplinary action.

(a) The board may invoke disciplinary action as outlined in subsection (b) whenever it shall be established to the satisfaction of the board, after a hearing as hereinafter provided, that any dentist or dental hygienist has been guilty of the following:

(1) Fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in obtaining any license, license certificate, annual registration certificate, money, or other thing of value.

(2) Gross immorality.

(3) Is a menace to the public health or to patients or others by reason of a disease.

(4) Is an habitual user of intoxicants or drugs rendering him or her unfit for the practice of dentistry or dental hygiene.

(5) Has been convicted for violation of federal or state narcotics or barbiturate laws.

(6) Is guilty of negligence or gross negligence.

a. For the purposes of this subdivision, negligence is defined as the failure to do what a reasonably prudent dentist or dental hygienist would have done under the same or similar circumstances or the doing of that which a reasonably prudent practitioner would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.

b. For the purposes of this subdivision, gross negligence is defined as willful or wanton conduct with reckless, malicious, or conscious disregard for the rights or safety of others, or conduct that is so deliberate, outrageous, and callous as to display total indifference to the health or safety of a patient, that could result in serious bodily injury or death.

(7) Is guilty of employing, allowing, or permitting any unlicensed person or persons to perform any work in his or her office which, under this chapter, can only be legally done by a person or persons holding a license to practice dentistry or dental hygiene.

(8) Willfully or negligently violates the rules of the State Department of Health or of the board regarding sanitation.

(9) Is guilty of division of fees, or agreeing to split or divide the fee received for dental service with any person for bringing or referring a patient without the knowledge of the patient or his or her legal representative, except the division of fees between dentists practicing in a partnership and sharing professional fees, or in case of one licensed dentist employing another.

(10) Is guilty of professional connection or association with or lending his or her name to anyone who is engaged in the illegal practice of dentistry or dental hygiene.

(11) Conviction in any court of competent jurisdiction of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

(12)a. A dental hygienist using or attempting to use in any manner whatsoever any prophylactic list, call list, records, reprints, or copies of same, or information gathered therefrom, of the names of patients whom the dental hygienist served in the office of a prior employer, unless the names appear upon the bona fide call or prophylactic list of his or her present employer and were caused to appear through the legitimate practice of dentistry or dental hygiene as provided for in this chapter.

b. A licensed dentist who aids or abets or encourages a dental hygienist employed by him or her to make use of a prophylactic list or the calling by telephone or by the use of letters transmitted through the mails to solicit patronage from patients formerly served in the office of any dentist employing the hygienist.

(13) Pertaining to licensed dentists only, the prescribing, administering or dispensing of any controlled substances enumerated in Schedules I through V contained in the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Chapter 2 of Title 20, or any amendment or successor thereto, or any drug not prescribed for any dentally or facially related condition, and/or for any necessary medication during the course of treatment rendered directly by the dentist, for any person not under his or her treatment in the regular practice of his or her profession.

(14) Irregularities in billing an insurance company or other third party payer for services rendered to a patient. For the purposes of this section irregularities in billing shall include: Reporting charges for the purpose of obtaining a total payment in excess of that usually received by the dentist for the services rendered; falsely reporting treatment dates for the purpose of obtaining payment; falsely reporting charges for services not rendered; falsely reporting services rendered for the purpose of obtaining payment; or failing to advise any third party payer that the copayment provisions of a contract have been abrogated by accepting the payment received from the third party payer as full payment.

(15) Pertaining to licensed dentists only, patient abandonment.

(16) Violating any rule adopted by the board.

(17) Has had his or her license or permit to practice dentistry or dental hygiene from another state suspended or revoked based upon acts similar to those described in this section. A certified copy of the record of suspension or revocation of the state making the suspension or revocation shall be conclusive evidence thereof.

(18) Violating any provision of this chapter.

(b) When the board finds any dentist or dental hygienist guilty of any of the grounds set forth in subsection (a), it may enter an order imposing one or more of the following penalties:

(1) Refuse to issue the dentist or dental hygienist any license or permit provided for in this chapter.

(2) With the exception of negligence as defined in paragraph (a)(6)a. revoke the license or permit of any dentist or dental hygienist.

(3) Suspend the license or permit of any dentist or dental hygienist.

(4) Enter a censure.

(5) Issue an order fixing a period and terms of probation best adapted to protect the public health and safety and to rehabilitate the dentist or dental hygienist.

(6) Impose an administrative fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each count or separate offense.

(7) Impose restrictions on the scope of practice.

(8) Impose peer review or professional education requirements.

(9) Assess the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.

(c) Failure to comply with any order of the board, including, but not limited to, an order of censure or probation, is cause for suspension or revocation of a license.

(d)(1) No disciplinary action as outlined in subsection (b) or (c) shall be invoked or entered except after a hearing by the board as provided in this chapter, and such order is subject to judicial review as provided by this chapter.

(2) No order of suspension or revocation provided in this section shall be made or entered except after a hearing by the board as provided in this chapter, and the order shall be subject to judicial review as provided by this chapter.

(e)(1) The board may temporarily suspend a special purpose license to practice dentistry across state lines without a hearing on either of the following grounds:

a. The failure of the licensee to appear or produce records or materials as requested by the board.

b. The initiation of a disciplinary action against the licensee by any state or territorial licensing jurisdiction in which the licensee holds a license to practice dentistry.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act, the temporary suspension provided herein shall remain in effect until either the licensee has complied with the request of the board or the disciplinary action pending against the licensee has been terminated in favor of the licensee and the temporary suspension has been terminated by a written order of the board. A special purpose license to practice dentistry across state lines is subject to each of the grounds for disciplinary action provided in this section in accordance with the procedures of Section 34-9-24 and the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act.

(f) Members of the board, any agent, employee, consultant, or attorney for the board, and the members of any committee of dentists or dental hygienists impaneled by the board, shall be immune from suits for any conduct in the course of their official duties with respect to investigations or hearings; provided, that the persons act without malice and in good faith that such investigations or hearings are warranted by the facts, known to them after diligent effort to obtain the facts of the matter relative to the investigations or hearings.

(g) Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted to limit or restrict the authority of the board to discipline any dentist licensed to practice in this state who violates this chapter while engaging in the practice of dentistry within this or any other state.

(h) The board shall have the authority to adopt rules imposing a non-disciplinary administrative penalty for designated violations of this chapter.

(Acts 1959, No. 100, p. 569, §22; Acts 1981, No. 81-372, p. 540, §3; Acts 1985, No. 85-697, p. 1120, §1; Acts 1986, No. 86-498, p. 950, §1; Act 99-402, p. 669, §1; Act 2005-73, p. 106, §3; Act 2009-18, p. 43, §5; Act 2011-571, p. 1165, §1; Act 2013-252, p. 626, §1; Act 2018-274, §1.)