In a series of ongoing posts, we've been discussing the process by which the Ohio State Dental Board investigates alleged violations of the Dental Practice Act, and how it decides whether to initiate the formal disciplinary process against a particular dental professional.
Specifically, in our last post, we discussed how if the Board votes to proceed, the affected dentist will be mailed a document known as the citation letter, which provides a written description of the formal charges and discusses the opportunity to pursue an administrative hearing.
Is it always advisable for a dentist facing formal charges to request an administrative hearing?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as every person and every situation is unique. In fact, the Board urges affected dentists to consider consulting with an attorney who is experienced in these types of matters before deciding on a course of action.
It also urges affected dentists to be mindful of the fact that they are subject to a deadline for requesting a hearing. Indeed, failure to file a timely request for a hearing will mean that the Board enters an Order based on its interpretation of the allegations as set forth in the notice letter.
How is the administrative hearing structured?
The administrative hearing is a public, semi-formal proceeding held before either the full Board or an Attorney Hearing Examiner. The State of Ohio will be represented by an Assistant Attorney General, while the affected dentist may proceed pro se or be represented by an attorney.
Both sides are given the opportunity to present witnesses and submit documents as evidence, and, when not presenting their case, cross-examine any witnesses and record objections to any documents proffered. It's important to note that the affected dentist may be called as a witness or subject to cross-examination.
As for the burden of proof, the State is tasked with proving the allegations via the presentation of "reliable, probative and substantial evidence."
As a final note, a court reporter will be present to transcribe the proceeding and, if the matter is held before an Attorney Hearing Examiner, a copy of the transcript and all documents submitted as evidence will be provided to Board Members.
Does the affected dentist need to be present at the hearing?
Unless the State has filed a subpoena, the affected dentist is not required to be present at the hearing. If they opt not to appear, he or she may still submit arguments in writing or have their attorney appear on their behalf.
The decision to appear at the hearing is one that should be carefully considered.
We'll conclude this discussion in a future post, taking a closer look at what happens upon conclusion of the hearing, and options for settlement and appeal.
If you are a licensed health professional facing disciplinary action affecting your license, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.