Professor in Colo. dental school licensing probe resigns

2010 06 04 09 43 23 496 Colorado Dental School 70

One of the central figures in the probe of the University of Colorado Denver School of Dental Medicine's license and prescription policies has resigned from his position as associate clinical professor of diagnostic and biological sciences, saying he's been hamstrung by the state dental board's delay in reactivating his license.

Randal James, D.D.S., a longtime Colorado oral surgeon who has taught at the school for 31 years, said he is at a loss to explain the board's delay. "I don't know why," he told, noting that he has been waiting for the board to approve his application since he submitted it in January. "I really, really enjoyed teaching."

Dr. James pointed out that his contract with the school expires June 30 and cannot be renewed without an active license.

He has practiced at the Sands House Clinic at the School of Dental Medicine for the last six years with an inactive license, which was allowed until state laws changed last August.

Dr. James contacted school officials in December about the new licensing law, which requires all faculty to have either an active or academic license.

Dr. James is the only one of the school's dentists who has been unable to obtain the required license after the school ordered him and six others to stop seeing patients until they received licenses from the state. The others have since obtained the necessary licenses.

His application is still pending before the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, and the board has refused to take action on his request at their monthly meetings, he said.

Board spokesperson Chris Lines told the group is "still gathering information" to determine whether to reactivate Dr. James' license. When asked why the other faculty members were able to get their licenses but not Dr. James, Lines responded that "each applicant is treated individually."

University spokesperson Jacque Montgomery said she didn't know why all the affected faculty members except Dr. James have been able to get the required license.

New policies in place

The school has tightened its license and prescription policies after the Denver Post ran several stories about dentists lacking required licenses under the new state law and prescriptions being written using the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) numbers of faculty who were not present for procedures.

The university stopped a practice that allowed residents to procure sedation drugs and write prescriptions using the DEA numbers of faculty members who were not present, and now has more stringent rules regarding prescriptions. Federal law requires that a doctor must have a relationship with the patient for whom the prescription is written.

Dr. James' name was never used on prescriptions while his license was inactive, Montgomery said.

A Colorado teenager who ended up in a pain clinic after having her third molars removed at the school subsequently filed a notice of claim against the school and Dr. James because he operated on her without an active license. Anise Fletcher, 17, filed the claim -- a requirement to preserve her right to file a lawsuit -- alleging she was left with "bone chips" in her gums and nerve damage.

Fletcher had her third molars removed at the university clinic by Dr. James and an unlicensed resident in August 2009, according to the Post. Records show that during the surgery she was administered fentanyl and midazolam intravenously, and that she left the clinic with prescriptions for Vicodin and Dilaudid, both controlled substances and painkillers. The prescriptions were written with the DEA number of a dentist who was not present.

Fletcher's claim alleges the university "failed to supervise Dr. James properly" and was negligent for allowing him to practice dentistry without an active license and "write prescriptions for controlled substances," according to the Post. She is seeking compensation for follow-up surgeries, pain therapy, and suffering.

The University of Colorado Denver School of Dental Medicine consistently ranks in the top tier of U.S. dental schools on all standardized exams and the top third of research dental schools, according to the school's dean, Denise Kassebaum, D.D.S., M.S.

Copyright © 2010

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