LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Robert B. Abtahi | Oct 2, 2011

Texas Dental Practice Business Laws

DENTAL PRACTICE-BUSINESS

1. What laws govern the practice of dentistry in the state of Texas?

The primary sources of law governing the practice of dentistry in Texas are the Dental Practice Act (DPA) and the Rules and Regulations of the State Board of Dental Examiners (SBDE). The “Dental Practice Act" is the popular name for the law found in Subtitle D of the Texas Occupations Code. The Texas Occupations Code was enacted by the Texas Legislature. The Rules and Regulations of the SBDE are the rules adopted by State Board of Dental Examiners to regulate the practice of dentistry in Texas.

2.How do I obtain a copy of the DPA and SBDE’s Rules and Regulations?

A copy of the DPA and the SBDE’s rules may be downloaded from the SBDE’s website for free at www.tsbde.state.tx.us. Hardcopies of the DPA and the SBDE’s rules may be obtained by sending a written request to the SBDE with a return address. The cost for a hardcopy of each publication is $15. Please make your check or money order payable to Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

3. Can a non-dentist own a dental practice?

No, only a licensed dentist may legally own a dental practice in Texas.

4. Are dentists required to carry malpractice insurance coverage in Texas?

Dentists are not required to carry malpractice insurance coverage in Texas. However, the SBDE encourages every dental practitioner to carry an appropriate amount of malpractice insurance for the protection of the dentist.

5. Does the Dental Practice Act and/or the SBDE’s Rules regulate the amount that a dentist may charge for his dental services?

No. The DPA and the SBDE’s rules do not specifically address what a dentist can and cannot charge for his dental services. However, SBDE Rule 108.2(e) prohibits flagrant and/or persistent overcharging, overdiagnosing or overtreating a patient. For the purpose of SBDE Rule 108.2(e), “overcharging" means the attempt to collect a fee without reasonable justification for any element of dental services provided to a patient that is in excess of the fee the dentist ordinarily charges to others for the same service. Also, SBDE Rule 108.8 (g) limits the amount that a dentist may charge for patient records.

6. Can a dentist dismiss a patient from her dental practice without abandoning the patient?

Yes. A dentist may dismiss a patient (e.g. terminate the dentist-patient relationship) for a reasonable cause if the requirements of SBDE Rule 108.5 regarding Patient Abandonment are followed. The dentist must take steps to protect the dental health of the patient by completing any dental procedures that may be in progress prior to terminating the dentist-patient relationship. The dentist must also remain available for emergency services for at least thirty (30) days after notice of termination is served upon the patient. Please review the SBDE rule thoroughly prior to attempting to dismiss a patient. SBDE Rule 108.5 can be found on the Board’s website located at www.tsbde.state.tx.us under the Agency Publications link.

7. What do I need to consider prior to closing a dental practice?

A dentist that desires to close a practice must consider the following issues:

Patient Abandonment- SBDE Rule 108.5 requires that an appropriate 30-day notice be sent to current patients prior to closing a practice.

Records Maintenance- SBDE Rule 108.8(e) requires a dentist to arrange for either the maintenance or the transfer to a succeeding dentist of a patient’s dental records when closing or leaving a practice. The SBDE must be notified in writing of the status of patient records no later than 15 days after a dentist closes or leaves a practice.

Name Changes- Any dental practice name changes must be timely made in accordance with SBDE Rule 108.4 regarding the Names of Dentists.

Application for Retirement Status- Dentists who desire to place their license on retirement status must send a retirement request to the SBDE in accordance with SBDE’s Licensing Division requirements. Dentists who have an open and active Board complaint or are currently under a Board Order for disciplinary action may not change their status to retired until the case or order is resolved. A copy of the SBDE’s retirement request form may be downloaded from the SBDE’s website at www.tsbde.state.tx.us.

8. Where are the rules regarding dental advertising found?

The rules regarding advertising are covered under Dental Practice Act Chapter 259 and SBDE Rules 108.50-108.61. The Dental Practice Act and the SBDE Rules may be found at the SBDE’s website located at www.tsbde.state.tx.us.

9. Are testimonials banned in advertising?

SBDE Rule 108.59 states that a licensed Texas dentist shall not write, disseminate, or participate in testimonials in any manner as to such dentist’s competency or ability or endorse proprietary remedies, drugs, instruments, equipment, appliances, food or food supplements, except to report the results of properly conducted and controlled experiments or clinical studies, provided that such reports are submitted only to recognized scientific journals or to recognized scientific professional associates, or both. SBDE Rule 108.59 can be found on the SBDE’s website located at www.tsbde.state.tx.us .

10. How long may a dentist’s name be associated with his practice after retirement or death? Can the name be maintained on signs or stationary of the dental practice?

SBDE Rule 108.4 addresses this issue. A dentist’s name may generally be associated with his practice for up to one year after retirement or death. If the practice is transferred to another dentist the former dentist’s name may be used for no more than forty (40) days after the date of transfer. The use of a dentist’s name on stationary and signs may be maintained as long as the dentist’s name is associated with the practice. SBDE Rule 108.4 can be found on the SBDE’s website located at www.tsbde.state.tx.us.

11. Can a dentist sell prescription items?

No. A person must be a licensed pharmacist in order to legally sell prescription items in Texas. The practice of pharmacy without a pharmacy license is a Class A Misdemeanor.

12. What is the Annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Training Requirement?

Employers must offer training on initial assignment, then at least annually. In addition, laboratory and production facility workers must receive specialized initial training.

A full text on OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard, published in the Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1030, details what employers must do to protect their workers who put themselves at reasonable risk of coming into contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials.

OSHA Website: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/dentistry/index.html

To review “Medical & Dental Offices – Guide to Compliance with OSHA Standards" (OSHA 3187-09R 2003) published by OSHA click here.

To review an “OSHA Fact Sheet on Bloodborne Pathogens" click here.

Additional resources provided by the author

DISCLAIMER: The following frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) are current as of May 2006. These FAQ’s constitute current policy of the SBDE and are subject to change at any time without notice. The reader is advised to consult a current version of the dental practice act (DPA) and the SBDE’s Rules before pursuing a course of action based upon these FAQ’s. No attorney-client relationship is created by the provision of these FAQ’s. Readers are advised to consult their own personal legal counsel regarding any issue addressed by these FAQ’s.

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