§ 43-11-47. Refusal to grant, or revocation of, licenses; disciplining licensees; subpoenas; judicial review; investigations; immunity; failure to appear; voluntary surrender.

CODE OF GEORGIA

Title 43. PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESSES

Chapter 11. DENTISTS AND DENTAL HYGIENISTS

Article 2. LICENSES for THE PRACTICE OF DENTISTRY

Current through 2019 Chapter 321

§ 43-11-47. Refusal to grant, or revocation of, licenses; disciplining licensees; subpoenas; judicial review; investigations; immunity; failure to appear; voluntary surrender

(a) The board shall have the authority to refuse to grant a license to an applicant or to revoke the license of a dentist licensed by the board or to discipline a dentist licensed under this chapter or any antecedent law upon a finding by a majority of the entire board that the licensee or applicant has:
(1) Failed to demonstrate the qualifications or standards for a license contained in this chapter or in the rules and regulations issued by the board, pursuant to specific statutory authority; it shall be incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that he or she meets all the requirements for the issuance of a license, and, if the board is not satisfied as to the applicant's qualifications, it may deny a license without a prior hearing; provided, however, that the applicant shall be allowed to appear before the board if he or she so desires;
(2) Knowingly made misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of dentistry or on any document connected therewith; or practiced fraud or deceit or intentionally made any false statement in obtaining a license to practice dentistry; or made a false statement or deceptive annual registration with the board;
(3) Been convicted of any felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude in the courts of this state or any other state, territory, or country or in the courts of the United States; as used in this subsection, the term "felony" shall include any offense which, if committed in this state, would be deemed a felony without regard to its designation elsewhere; and, as used in this subsection, the term "conviction" shall include a finding or verdict of guilty or a plea of guilty, regardless of whether an appeal of the conviction has been sought. Any licensee who is convicted under the laws of this state, the United States, or any other state, territory, or country of a felony shall be required to notify the board of conviction within ten days of the conviction. The failure to notify the board of a conviction shall be considered grounds for revocation of his or her license;
(4) Been arrested, charged, and sentenced for the commission of any felony, or any crime involving moral turpitude, where:
(A) A plea of nolo contendere was entered to the charge;
(B) First offender treatment without adjudication of guilt pursuant to the charge was granted; or
(C) An adjudication or sentence was otherwise withheld or not entered on the charge.

The plea of nolo contendere or the order entered pursuant to the provisions of Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42 or other first offender treatment shall be conclusive evidence of arrest and sentencing for such crime;

(5) Had his or her license to practice dentistry revoked, suspended, or annulled by any lawful licensing dental authority other than the board; or had other disciplinary action taken against him or her by any lawful licensing dental authority other than the board; or was denied a license by any lawful licensing dental authority other than the board, pursuant to disciplinary proceedings; or was refused the renewal of a license by any lawful licensing dental authority other than the board, pursuant to disciplinary proceedings;
(6) Engaged in any unprofessional, immoral, unethical, deceptive, or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which conduct or practice materially affects the fitness of the licensee or applicant to practice dentistry, or of a nature likely to jeopardize the interest of the public, which conduct or practice need not have resulted in actual injury to any person or be directly related to the practice of dentistry but shows that the licensee or applicant has committed any act or omission which is indicative of bad moral character or untrustworthiness; unprofessional conduct shall also include any departure from, or the failure to conform to, the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing dental practice;
(7)
(A) Engaged in the practice of dentistry as an employee of any individual not licensed to practice dentistry in this state or engaged in the practice of dentistry as an officer or employee of any corporation other than one organized and existing pursuant to Chapter 10 of Title 14, "The Georgia Professional Association Act," or Chapter 7 of Title 14, the "Georgia Professional Corporation Act," or engaged in the practice of dentistry as an employee, manager, or member of any limited liability company organized and existing pursuant to Chapter 11 of Title 14 or a limited liability partnership pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 14 other than one in which all members are licensed dentists and all professional services and professional judgment decisions are delivered by and made by licensed dentists, except as a licensed dentist or an intern or resident of a hospital or teaching institution licensed by this state.
(B) Possession of an ownership interest of a deceased licensed dentist in a limited liability company which is wholly owned by licensed dentists as described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall not constitute a violation of that subparagraph if that interest is transferred to another licensed dentist member or redeemed by the limited liability company within six months after the date of death of that licensed dentist member;
(8) Reserved;
(9) Knowingly performed any act which in any way aids, assists, procures, advises, or encourages any unlicensed person or any licensee whose license has been suspended or revoked by the board to practice dentistry or to practice outside the scope of any disciplinary limitation placed upon the licensee by the board;
(10) Violated a statute, law, or any rule or regulation of this state, any other state, the board, the United States, or any other lawful authority (without regard to whether the violation is criminally punishable), which statute, law, or rule or regulation relates to or in part regulates the practice of dentistry, when the licensee or applicant knows or should know that such action is violative of such statute, law, or rule; or violated a lawful order of the board previously entered by the board in a disciplinary hearing, consent decree, or license reinstatement;
(11) Been adjudged mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction within or outside this state; any such adjudication shall automatically suspend the license of any such person and shall prevent the reissuance or renewal of any license so suspended for as long as the adjudication of incompetence is in effect;
(12) Displayed an inability to practice dentistry with reasonable skill and safety to patients or has become unable to practice dentistry with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness, use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material, or as a result of any mental or physical condition, or by reason of displaying habitual intoxication, addiction to, or recurrent personal misuse of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of similar substances. In enforcing this paragraph, the board may, upon reasonable grounds, require a licensee or applicant to submit to a mental or physical examination by physicians designated by the board. The results of such examination shall be admissible in any hearing before the board, notwithstanding any claim of privilege under a contrary rule of law or statute. Every person who shall accept the privilege of practicing dentistry in this state, or shall file an application for a license to practice dentistry in this state, shall be deemed to have given that person's consent to submit to such mental or physical examination and to have waived all objections to the admissibility of the results in any hearing before the board upon the grounds that the same constitutes a privileged communication. If a licensee or applicant fails to submit to such an examination when properly directed to do so by the board, unless such failure is due to circumstances beyond his or her control, the board may enter a final order upon proper notice, hearing, and proof of such refusal. Any licensee or applicant who is prohibited from practicing dentistry under this paragraph shall at reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate to the board that such person can resume or begin the practice of dentistry with reasonable skill and safety to patients;
(13) Reserved;
(14) Engaged in the excessive prescribing or administering of drugs or treatment or the use of diagnostic procedures which are detrimental to the patient as determined by the customary practice and standards of the local community of licensees; or knowingly prescribed controlled drug substances or any other medication without a legitimate dental purpose; or knowingly overprescribed controlled drug substances or other medication, in light of the condition of the patient at the time of prescription; or
(15) Knowingly made any fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement in any form of advertising or made any statement in any advertisement concerning the quality of the dental services rendered by that dentist or any dentist associated with him or her. For purposes of this paragraph, "advertising" shall include any information communicated in a manner designed to attract public attention to the practice of the licensee.
(b) The provisions of Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," with respect to emergency action by the board and summary suspension of a license are adopted and incorporated by reference into this chapter.
(c) For purposes of this Code section, the board may obtain, and is authorized to subpoena, upon reasonable grounds, any and all records relating to the mental or physical condition of a licensee or applicant, and such records shall be admissible in any hearing before the board.
(d) When the board finds that any person is unqualified to be granted a license or finds that any person should be disciplined pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section, the board may take any one or more of the following actions:
(1) Refuse to grant or renew a license to an applicant;
(2) Administer a public or private reprimand, but a private reprimand shall not be disclosed to any person except the licensee;
(3) Suspend any license for a definite period or for an indefinite period in connection with any condition which may be attached to the restoration of said license;
(4) Limit or restrict any license as the board deems necessary for the protection of the public;
(5) Revoke any license; or
(6) Condition the penalty upon, or withhold formal disposition pending, the applicant's or licensee's submission to such care, counseling, or treatment as the board may direct.
(e) In addition to and in conjunction with the actions described in subsection (d) of this Code section, the board may make a finding adverse to the licensee or applicant but withhold imposition of judgment and penalty; or it may impose the judgment and penalty but suspend enforcement thereof and place the licensee on probation, which probation may be vacated upon noncompliance with such reasonable terms as the board may impose.
(f) Initial judicial review of a final decision of the board shall be had solely in the superior court of the county of domicile of the board.
(g) In its discretion, the board may reinstate a license which has been revoked or issue a license which has been denied or refused, following such procedures as the board may prescribe by rule; and, as a condition thereof, it may impose any disciplinary or corrective method provided in this chapter.
(h)
(1) The executive director is vested with the power and authority to make, or cause to be made through employees or agents of the board, such investigations as he or she or the board or any district attorney may deem necessary or proper for the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. Any person properly conducting an investigation on behalf of the board shall have access to and may examine any writing, document, or other material relating to the fitness of any licensee or applicant. The executive director, the president of the board, or the appointed representative of either may issue subpoenas to compel such access upon a determination that reasonable grounds exist for the belief that a violation of this chapter or any other law relating to the practice of dentistry may have taken place. Upon approval of the board, any person properly conducting an investigation on behalf of the board shall have access to and shall have the right to examine the physical premises of a dental practice.
(2) The results of all investigations initiated by the board shall be reported solely to the board, and the records of such investigations shall be kept for the board by the executive director, with the board retaining the right to have access at any time to such records. No part of any such records shall be released, except to the board, for any purpose other than a hearing before the board, nor shall such records be subject to subpoena; provided, however, that the board shall be authorized to release such records to any law enforcement agency or prosecuting attorney or to another enforcement agency or lawful licensing authority.
(3) All records relating to any patient of a licensee who is the subject of a board inquiry shall be admissible at any hearing held to determine whether a violation of this chapter has taken place, regardless of any statutory privilege; provided, however, that any documentary evidence relating to a patient shall be reviewed in camera and shall not be disclosed to the public.
(4) The board shall have the authority to exclude all persons during its deliberations on disciplinary proceedings and to discuss any disciplinary matter in private with a licensee or applicant and the legal counsel of that licensee or applicant.
(i) A person, firm, corporation, association, authority, or other entity shall be immune from civil and criminal liability for reporting or investigating the acts or omissions of a licensee or applicant which violate the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section or any other provision of law relating to a licensee's or applicant's fitness to practice as a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant or for initiating or conducting proceedings against such licensee or applicant, if such report is made or action is taken in good faith, without fraud or malice. Any person who testifies or who makes a recommendation to the board in the nature of peer review, in good faith, without fraud or malice, before the board in any proceeding involving the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section or any other law relating to a licensee's or applicant's fitness to practice as a dentist or a dental hygienist shall be immune from civil and criminal liability for so testifying.
(j) Neither a denial of a license on grounds other than those enumerated in subsection (a) of this Code section nor the issuance of a private reprimand nor the denial of a license by reciprocity nor the denial of a request for reinstatement of a revoked license nor the refusal to issue a previously denied license shall be considered to be a contested case within the meaning of Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act"; notice and hearing within the meaning of Chapter 13 of Title 50 shall not be required, but the applicant or licensee shall be allowed to appear before the board if he or she so requests.
(k) If any licensee or applicant fails to appear at any hearing after reasonable notice, the board may proceed to hear the evidence against such licensee or applicant and take action as if such licensee or applicant had been present. A notice of hearing, initial or recommended decision, or final decision of the board in a disciplinary proceeding shall be served upon the licensee or applicant by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, to the last known address of record with the board. If such material is returned marked "unclaimed" or "refused" or is otherwise undeliverable and if the licensee or applicant cannot, after diligent effort, be located, the executive director shall be deemed to be the agent for service for such licensee or applicant for purposes of this Code section, and service upon the executive director shall be deemed to be service upon the licensee or applicant.
(l) The voluntary surrender of a license shall have the same effect as a revocation of said license, subject to reinstatement in the discretion of the board.
(m) This Code section shall apply equally to all licensees or applicants whether individuals, partners, or members of any other incorporated or unincorporated associations, limited liability companies, corporations, or other associations of any kind whatsoever.
(n) All subpoenas issued pursuant to the authority granted in this chapter shall be subject to the general rules of law with respect to distance, tender of fees and expenses, and protective orders; provided, further, any motion made with respect thereto shall be made to and passed on by a judge of the superior court of the county of residence of the person to whom the subpoena is directed.

Cite as OCGA § 43-11-47

History. Amended by 2013 Ga. Laws 83, §2-14, eff. 7/1/2013.