Title 5
Businesses and Professions

Chapter 31.1
Dentists and Dental Hygienists

R.I. Gen. Laws 5-31.1-11

 5-31.1-11.  Complaints.

(a) Any person, firm, corporation, or public officer may submit a written complaint to the board charging the holder of a license to practice dentistry or dental hygiene or a limited registrant with unprofessional conduct, specifying the grounds for the charge.

(b) The board shall review all complaints and, in those instances where no referral is made to an investigating committee, the board of examiners in dentistry shall make a written finding of facts with regard to the complaint. In conducting an investigation of such complaints that requires an inspection of a dental office:

(1) Either the investigative committee or the full board of examiners in dentistry shall make such finding and it must be evidenced by recorded minutes showing the vote to conduct an inspection;

(2) The scope and manner of conducting any such inspection shall be reasonably related to the written complaint received. Any dentist(s) whose practice is the subject of such inspection shall be provided by either the investigative committee or the full board with a copy of the complaint or a written summary of all pertinent allegations prior to or at the commencement of the inspection;

(3) At the conclusion of the inspection and prior to leaving the dental office premises the board inspectors shall provide the dentist whose office has been inspected with a copy of the completed inspection form, noting areas of deficiency or follow-up;

(4) Unless there is a real potential of imminent, unreasonable harm to patients or staff, the dentist shall have ten (10) days to remedy any deficiencies found during the inspection; and

(5) All inspections shall be carried out so as not to interfere with direct patient care.

(c) All complaints considered by the board or an investigating committee of the board shall be reported within six (6) months of the receipt of the complaint unless the board, on a case-by-case basis, for good cause shown, in writing, extends the time for consideration; provided, that failure to report does not divest the board of its jurisdiction to pursue the rights and remedies established in this chapter.

(d) If the board determines that the complaint merits consideration, or if the board, on its own initiative without a formal complaint, has reason to believe that any holder of a license or limited registration to practice dentistry or of a license to practice dental hygiene or of a license to practice DAANCE-certified maxillofacial surgery assisting may be guilty of unprofessional conduct, the chairperson shall designate no less than two (2) members of the board, at least one of whom is a public member, to serve as a committee to investigate, and report upon the charges to the board.
If the complaint relates to a dentist, one member of the committee shall be licensed as a dentist. If the complaint relates to a dental hygienist, one member of the committee shall be licensed as a dental hygienist. If the complaint relates to a DAANCE-certified maxillofacial surgery assistant, one member of the committee shall be licensed as a dental hygienist or certified dental assistant.

(e) Investigations shall remain confidential and all initial hearings, investigatory hearings, and full hearings before the board shall remain confidential.

(f) In the event that a hearing takes place before the hearing committee of the board, all decisions of the board shall present conclusions of fact and conclusions of law applicable to the decision that it has rendered.

(g) The board shall make public all decisions, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, that call for any sanction against a license holder as prescribed in  5-31.1-17.

(h) Following the investigation, the committee shall present its evaluations and recommendations to the board.

(i) The board shall review the committee's findings to determine whether to take further action, but no member of the board who participated in the investigation may participate in this review or any subsequent hearing or action taken by the board. The hearing committee shall consist of the remaining members of the board. Four (4) members of the hearing committee constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The chairperson of the board shall preside over the hearing.

History of Section.
P.L. 1987, ch. 358, 2; P.L. 2014, ch. 95, 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 163, 1.