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“Letters of concern” a weak discipline substitute, TV station alleges

According to an investigative series published by Phoenix local news station ABC 15, the state’s dental board frequently uses “letters of concern” as substitutes for discipline, concealing details of the reasons from the public. Reporters began investigating the board in early 2015.

The result of the investigation suggests that the Arizona dental board has essentially looked the other way in cases of egregious misconduct, such as a dentist who ignored a parent’s request for her 11-year-old not to have surgery on her tongue.

The investigative report notes that the board’s policy for incidents like this is to issue “letters of concern,” which are now available to the public, but offer little or no detailed information on the circumstances of the cases. Most disciplinary reports, including the letters, were not made available to the public prior to September of 2015, according to the ABC 15 report.

Letters of concerns are not considered disciplinary actions, according to the report, but make up 70% percent of the board’s actions.

See the reports from the series here.