Monday, July 14, 2008

Reciprocal Discipline For Dentists

The full Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court considered a series of  questions relating to the proposed reciprocal discipline of a dentist in light of actions taken in Rhode Island. The court remanded the matter to a single justice of the court, holding:

We hold that the board has the authority to impose reciprocal discipline in this case, and in the absence of other material issues pending before the single justice, we proceed to consider the discipline imposed by the board. The board revoked Anusavice's license to practice dentistry in Massachusetts, a level of discipline substantially greater than that imposed in Rhode Island. While in other circumstances this disparity might raise a concern, it does not do so here because the extent of the discipline was based not only the discipline imposed in Rhode Island, but also on Anusavice's history of discipline and regulatory noncompliance in Massachusetts, as well as his criminal misconduct.

The board has broad latitude in shaping appropriate sanctions in each case, and we defer to the board's expertise in making those determinations. Birudavol v. Board of Registration in Med., 448 Mass. 1031, 1033 (2007), quoting Sugarman v. Board of Registration in Med., 422 Mass. 338, 347 (1996). We review the sanction imposed for abuse of discretion. Kvitka v. Board of Registration in Med., 407 Mass. 140, 143 (1990). Here, we find no abuse of discretion. The decision was accompanied by a statement of reasons. Those reasons were supported by substantial evidence, and "the petitioner has not demonstrated any 'extraordinary ... circumstances' that would justify our interference in the board's exercise of its discretion in terms of the sanction." Kobrin v. Board of Registration in Med., 444 Mass. 837, 850 (2005), quoting Weinberg v. Board of Registration in Med., 443 Mass. 679, 687 (2005).

The case is Anusavice v. Board of Registration in Dentistry, decided July 11, 2008. (Mike Frisch)

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