A new report blasts the Texas agency that oversees dentists and hygienists, finding that its databases are replete with sloppy errors, that information reported to the public is flawed and that its new $118,000 enforcement system is “not fully functional or reliable.”
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners plans to buy a new automated system for $644,000 to address some of the problems found in the audit released this week.
A skeptical-sounding report by the State Auditor’s Office noted that “Given the difficulties the agency has had in the past in designing, implementing, and maintaining automated systems, it will be imperative that the agency use a systematic process for installing, customizing, testing, and implementing the new system to ensure that the existing problems do not occur in the new system.”
Several problems concerned the information that the state requires the board to report.
The percentage of complaints resulting in disciplinary action: inaccurate
The number of complaints resolved: inaccurate
The average time for complaints resolved (reported as 377.25 days in 2008): inaccurate
Overall, the board reported unreliable results for eight of 12 key performance measures tested for fiscal 2008.
The audit also found that each of the agency’s five computerized systems had flawed data.
The legal system, for example, had hundreds of complaints lacking information.
The licensing system maintains license data for 22,656 dentists, 15,400 dental hygienists and 24,500 dental assistants. But inconsistencies cause the agency to report incorrect information to the public regarding the status of a license and a licensee’s prior disciplinary actions.
“This puts patients at risk of receiving services from licensees who have committed repeated violations,” the report states.
The audit found that 19 licenses with disciplinary actions were not flagged in the board’s online license verification database. Also, 17 of those licenses were not flagged with disciplinary actions in the licensing system. The old enforcement system flagged three cases incorrectly as having disciplinary actions.
The board responded, “management agrees with recommendations to ensure compliance files are thoroughly and accurately managed. A master list will be made to include any and all files relative to compliance with . . . disciplinary actions.”
The problems at the agency are nothing new. State audits in 2002 and 2005 also reported issues with unreliable and inaccurate data.
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