Shame on Nevada Dental Board1 year, 11 months ago
Posted on Apr 27, 2017, 7 p.m.
The latest update regarding Nevada Dental Board corruption
On January 20, 2017, during a meeting of the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners (“NSBDE”), members of the Las Vegas Dental Association (“LVDA”) gathered in front of NSBDE headquarters and held up a sign with the slogan, “Shame on Nevada Board of Dental Examiners.” LVDA was protesting the fact that the NSBDE was considering the candidacy of John Hunt, Esq. as an applicant to become NSBDE’s General Counsel, NSBDE’s continued employment of its Executive Director, Debra Shaffer-Kugel, NSBDE’s failure to act in compliance with its established statutes and regulations, licensees’ denial of due process rights in NSBDE’s disciplinary process, and other issues about which LVDA has been complaining about for the past 1½ years. It now appears the LVDA’s prolonged campaign of shame against NSBDE is beginning to have an effect. On March 24, 2017, Hunt withdrew his application for General Counsel. In his speech whereby Hunt detailed the withdrawal of his candidacy, Hunt described the members of LVDA, all of whom are licensed dental professionals with the State of Nevada, as “people who push drugs.”1 NSBDE then terminated Hunt’s contract, putting an end to the attorney’s 26-year reign, and hired John Kelleher, Esq. former General Counsel for the State of Nevada Division of Insurance.
However, LVDA is still pushing for more reforms in its campaign of shame against NSBDE. During NSBDE’s meeting on April 5, 2017, LVDA members called for the resignation of NSBDE Executive Director Shaffer and NSBDE President Byron Blasco, DMD. Shaffer had previously admitted that she failed to appropriately disclose on financial statements the full amount of actual legal fees that Hunt was paid by NSBDE.2 According to a May 2016 Performance Audit of NSBDE by Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau (“LCB”), NSBDE overpaid Hunt by more than $250,000 in the years 2014 and 2015.3 Auditors concluded that Shaffer was the one who was responsible for the lack of accuracy and fair presentation of the financial statements presented to NSBDE.4 Blasco, as NSBDE President, has failed to hold Hunt accountable for his over-billing of legal fees and costs in excess of the “not to exceed” maximum in Hunt’s contract and demand that Hunt repay the excess $250,000 he received in violation of his contract. This is in addition to Blasco’s continuing support of a disciplinary system established by Hunt whereby employees, agents, and non-Board members conduct investigations and informal hearings without Board Member involvement and in violation of NSBDE’s own regulations.6
A recent case involving a former Nevada dentist highlights some of the flaws of NSBDE. In 2016, Scott Brooksby, DDS, a prosthodontist, had his license to practice dentistry revoked not because of malpractice or bad outcome, but because he could no longer afford to pay the excessive fees and costs charged by Hunt. The original complaint against Brooksby involved a patient who failed to return for follow-up treatment after a filling fell out even though Brooksby offered to treat her at no charge. This same patient continued to neglect her dental care and finally showed up months later to the office of another dentist with her tooth now in decay. Patient then filed a complaint against Brooksby. During Hunt’s investigation of Brooksby he decided he didn’t like Brooksby’s use of ozone for dental infections, which Hunt told NSBDE was a “poisonous gas,” and Brooksby’s use of a cleanser for dentures that was something other than the minimal standard of soap and water recommended by the American Dental Association. Such non-issues neither mentioned nor complained of by patients are routinely added by Hunt to complaints based on a regulation that appears to unconstitutionally vague.7 Hunt’s persecution of Brooksby over minor issues put Brooksby out of business and forced him to move to another state where he was subsequently given a separate de novo hearing on the matter, which excluded NSBDE’s findings, and granted a full and unrestricted license to practice dentistry.
Brooksby is only one of many cases where Nevada dental licensees have had their names, reputations, businesses, and licenses ruined due to unjust prosecutions where there was no bad outcome or malpractice. Although NSBDE states on its website that it does not have authority to resolve fee disputes,8 which are often the focus of a patient’s complaint, Hunt and NSBDE will invent other reasons to prosecute licensees anyway.9 Perhaps, Hunt and some NSBDE Board Members will be able to explain themselves when they are required to respond to a lawsuit filed against them by LVDA in March 2017 wherein it is alleged dental licensees have been denied their 14th Amendment Civil Right to Due Process. Regardless, it appears the shame on NSBDE will be continuing so long as Hunt’s supporters remain in control, Board Members remain uninvolved in the disciplinary process, and financial abuses remain unresolved by those responsible for them.
by Daniel F. Royal, DO, HMD, JD
Turtle Healing Band Clinic, Las Vegas, Nevada
1 NSBDE Meeting, March 24, 2017.
2 Performance Audit of NSBDE,” May 24, 2016, p.14.
4 Ibid., p.59.
5 NSBDE Meeting, April 5, 2017.
6 NRS 631.363(1).
7 NAC 631.250.