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Andrew Traub
|Government

Oversight of Dentists Lacks Bite

Becky Murphy’s boss Dr. Russell Boone was found stealing her health insurance number to buy painkillers for a year. She reported him and was pretty upset that he was put on a probation and continued to practice even after he plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance by fraud. His attorney is negotiating a settlement with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, and Murphy is confused as to why since he committed a felony.

However, the dental board is known for being extremely lax in all their decisions. For example, Dr. Shephen Durbin who videotaped his female employees getting undressed only received a probate suspension. The board also gives out probate suspensions to dentists who in other states are having their licenses revoked.

In contrast the Texas Medical Board is more harsh and has suspended 56 doctors in two years. The dental board usually just gives out fines with few follow ups, and the few follow ups that are made have been found to be flawed enforcement and weak oversight of dental professionals.

Even with the inadequacy of the dental board’s performance, this year they are receiving an extra one million dollars in funding. Louis Leichter, Boone’s attorney and a frequent defense lawyer for other dentists, believes that Boone’s treatment and suspended probation is fair enough. Murphy however does not because Boone could end up with a clean record and she believes that from law enforcement of the dental board the system is skewed to shield doctors.

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