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Check Up On Your Dentist

(credit: Alistair Berg/Getty Images)

(credit: Alistair Berg/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - How do you know if your dentist is the subject of a complaint?

Seven thousand dental patients in Tulsa, Oklahoma were urged to be tested for Hepatitis and HIV after an inspection of their dental office found unsafe, unsanitary, and dangerous conditions in the office of their dentist.

Despite the mind boggling number of violations of safe medical conditions, online patient reviews gave him 4 stars out of 5, noting only that he ran late to his appointments. Not sure what he was doing, but it wasn’t cleaning the instruments.

So how can you actually find out if the guy who sticks his hands and metal objects in your mouth for a living is doing anything wrong, legally? It’s harder than you think.

There are two types of claims to be made against medical professionals – criminal complaints where the professional could go to jail, and civil malpractice cases where the dentist’s practices weren’t criminal but were substandard and for which a patient can file a lawsuit to get money damages.

The state dental board in every state can issue warnings or suspensions based on patient complaints. So, go online, type in the name of your state and dental disciplinary board to find the homepage. But the Tulsa dentist had no prior discipline, so to be proactive, always ask questions of your dentist like: How do you sanitize that sharp object you’re putting in my mouth?

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