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Court properly denied dentist’s petition for judicial review

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the denial of a dentist’s petition for judicial review of a decision by the State Board of Dentistry which found he violated Indiana Code after a patient’s wisdom teeth surgery.

The patient, referred to as Patient A in the court opinion, had her wisdom teeth removed by Dr. Donald Walker in 2008. When she woke after the surgery, she felt like she was gasping for air and was told to stop because she was scaring other patients. Walker then placed his hand over her mouth and held it there for a few seconds, which really scared her, according to the opinion.

The patient was taken to a recovery room by two hygienists, but was left alone for several minutes despite her drowsy state. She felt rushed out of the office and saw a different dentist for follow-up care.

Patient A filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and a hearing before the dentistry board was held in October 2012. The board found Walker violated I.C. 25-1-9-4(a)(3) in that he violated 828 IAC 3-1-6.5(c)(10) by failing to provide continual and direct supervision of the patient by a person trained in basic cardiac life support. It also found Walker violated I.C. 25-1-9-4(a)(4)(B) in that he failed to keep abreast of current professional theory by using the “hand-over-mouth” technique on adult patients. The technique was taught in dental schools and accepted for pediatric patients up until the 1980s.

Walker claimed the board applied the wrong definition to the phrase “direct supervision,” which is not defined as used in 828 IAC 3-1-6.5(c)(10). The board concluded that “continual and direct supervision” was not being provided when the hygienist is in an adjacent room and providing treatment to another patient. The judges found this interpretation to be reasonable.

“The evidence established that Dr. Walker was aware that patients in the holding room were sometimes supervised by a hygienist who was across the hall treating another patient. Further, Patient A testified that she was left alone in the holding room, and the Board found her credible. We cannot reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses. We conclude that the Board properly found that Dr. Walker violated 828 IAC 3-1-6.5(c)(10) by knowingly failing to provide ‘continual and direct supervision by a person trained in basic cardiac life support’ to a recovering patient,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Donald R. Walker, D.D.S. v. State Board of Dentistry, 49A02-1307-MI-593.

The judges also found the evidence presented supports the board’s findings that Walker violated I.C. 25-1-9-4(a)(4)(B) by using the hand-over-mouth technique on Patient A. The board relied on the testimony of several oral surgeons to hold that the technique is not current professional theory or practice for use on adult patients.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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