Dentists in double trouble: The (un)fairness of punishing for the same mistake twice

Wolter Brands, Jos V.M. Welie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background and Overview. Many state dental practice acts allow for the suspension or revocation of a dentist's license on the basis of a previous conviction for illegal behavior, even if the behavior is not related to the practice of dentistry. Penalizing a dentist twice for the same behavior appears to violate the legal principle "ne bis in idem" - that is, no double penalty for the same socially undesirable behavior. However, disciplinary measures are not intended primarily to penalize the offender but rather to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. In this article, the authors review various cases in which boards disciplined convicted dentists and propose criteria for discerning between situations in which such "double trouble" is fair and unfair. Conclusions and Practice Implications. The authors conclude that such disciplinary actions are fair only if four criteria concerning the following are fulfilled: the relationship between the dentist's illegal behavior and dental treatment or privileges of the dentist; the severity of the crime; the frequency of the illegal behavior; and the balance between crime and punishment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1249-1255
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dentistry(all)


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