News

State yanks dentist's license

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

A state agency has barred Federal Way dentist Jeffrey Burgess from practicing dentistry in Washington for five years because of unprofessional conduct, including sexual misconduct.

His license will be revoked for five years. After that, he can't ask to have it reinstated until he has paid a $25,000 fine, completed an exam and received a psychological assessment, said the Washington Dental Quality Assurance Commission.

The commission, which investigated allegations against Burgess by some of his former patients, announced Wednesday that it concluded he touched the breasts of female patients inappropriately, didn't explain his treatment procedures and contacted patients for non-therapeutic purposes.

In addition, the commission said, he allowed an unlicensed assistant to give a patient an injection and his South Sound Oral Medicine office failed a state audit for infection control methods.

The commission's findings were issued after a hearing last December but didn't become official until a judge put the ruling in writing.

The ruling is final. There is no appeal process in such cases, said Kate Lynch, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, which includes the dental commission.

John Versnel, a lawyer for Burgess, couldn't be reached for comment.

Burgess also is facing possible discipline by Hawaii authorities for an undisclosed complaint involving his practice of dentistry there. The complaint was filed last year and is still under investigation by the Hawaii Board of Dental Examiners. The details aren't public until the investigation is finished, according to the state's Department of Consumer Affairs.

Besides Hawaii's investigators, "only the respondent and the complainant can know the nature of the case," said a Consumer Affairs spokeswoman. She also said the location of Burgess' practice in Hawaii hasn't been disclosed.

The outcome of his case in Washington has been reported to Hawaii authorities because that's the only other state where he's licensed as a dentist, Lynch said. The findings also will be reported to a national databank of information about actions against dentists.

Burgess came to the attention of Washington's dental commission in 2001 after a female patient claimed he inappropriately touched her during an exam at his Federal Way office. Nine more women later accused him of incidents of sexual misconduct they said occurred between 1996 and 2002. One of the women also raised the allegation of an unlicensed assistant giving her a shot.

Other accusations of unprofessional conduct by Burgess followed.

During the state's investigation, Burgess was prohibited from treating females and minors.

Officials said revocations of dentists' licenses in Washington are relatively rare, but three occurred last year for unprofessional conduct, according to the health department.

The state charges against Burgess were professional, not criminal. The Federal Way Police Department investigated similar complaints against him several years ago and forwarded them to King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, whose office decided there wasn't enough evidence to file charges, according to officials.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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