State Dental Board ‘Plagued’ by Poor Record-Keeping, Lax Oversight, Report Finds
The Dental Board of California, which is in charge of disciplining dentists in the state, has been "plagued" by poor record-keeping, delays in handling cases and "lax management supervision," according to an independent review, the Sacramento Bee reports. Consultants with Sacramento-based Newpoint Group were hired to conduct the review as the result of a law passed in 2001 designed to improve the dental board's oversight and enforcement of the state's dentistry laws. According to the 93-page draft report, the statistical information produced by the board since the mid-1990s was "so poor" that it was difficult to evaluate the board's performance. However, the consultants were able to determine that patients who filed complaints with the board waited an average of 74 days for their cases to be processed before being referred to investigators. Once a case was referred to investigators, it took an average of 12 months to close; 15% of cases took more than two years to conclude. The report also found that the board provided "minimal supervisory or management review" of case investigators. In addition, the report said that the board's oversight issues have been exacerbated by staffing problems, including high turnover and the state's hiring freeze. Richard DeCuir, assistant executive officer of the board, said in a statement that "corrective measures" are being implemented to address the report's findings, including monthly case reviews by supervisors, the use of outside experts to review cases to prevent a backlog and updated procedural manuals for handling complaints and investigations. A final report on the dental board is expected to be submitted to the Legislature in early September (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 8/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.