The NC State Board of Dental Examiners (“Dental Board”) recently disciplined a dentist in March 2022 for failing to adequately supervise her practice locations in North Carolina. The dentist, who is licensed in North Carolina but lives in Indiana, is the sole owner of a professional corporation with two practice locations. Although other licensed dentists work at the practices, the Dental Board determined that the owner failed to adequately supervise the practices because she:
- Had not visited either location since they opened in 2020,
- Had no communications with the dentists or clinical staff of the practices, and
- Was not involved with the interviewing or hiring of dentists or clinical staff.
The practices had a management agreement with a dental support organization (DSO) for business services that had previously been found compliant with the Dental Board’s Management Arrangements Rule (MAR) in 2019. However, the owner dentist had agreed that she was still obligated to adequately supervise her practices even though she lived out of state and had contracted with a DSO.
The Dental Board imposed a 5-year probationary period on the dentist, during which she must:
- Directly communicate with the clinical staff or be physically present for a minimum of eight hours per quarter in each location;
- Submit quarterly reports of her communications and visits with each practice, and a annual CPA accounting of all payments to the DSO and all profit paid to the owner; and
- Personally handle hiring and firing of all dentists and clinical staff.
Importantly, the Dental Board did not find that the non-owner dentists failed to adequately supervise the care provided in each location. Instead, the disciplinary order said that the owner of a professional entity must adequately supervise and control the practice, and cannot permit an unlicensed person or entity to control or operate the practice. The Dental Board’s order is a clear reminder, that, although management agreements with DSOs are permitted in North Carolina, licensed dentists remain responsible for all clinical aspects of their practices.