Houston dentist Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson has now officially lost her license to practice dentistry in Texas.
The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners formally revoked her license in November, but there is a 25-day waiting period before the revocation becomes permanent.
As we recently reported in the disturbing case of Nevaeh Hall, the young girl walked into a Houston dental office in January, and left it in an ambulance rushing to an emergency room after the sedation procedure went seriously awry and she was deprived of oxygen.
Ultimately, it was found that Jefferson, Nevaeh's dentist, severely overmedicated the child, according to a report from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, as we wrote. Nevaeh was given “large doses of anesthetic and sedatives,” and there were “warning sounds and visual indications which showed that for a period of five hours Nevaeh’s brain suffered from a severe lack of oxygen.”
Jefferson has a history of infractions with the state board starting in 2005, when the board reprimanded her for failing to enter patients’ vital signs in her records, according to board documents. She paid a $1,000 fine and took continuing education classes. In 2012, Jefferson again ran afoul of the board for not meeting standards of care while sedating a patient. She was fined $3,000 and once again ordered to take continuing education courses, but kept her license. Despite her past infractions, she was in good standing when she treated Nevaeh.
The State Board of Dental Examiners moved quickly after the incident with Nevaeh, suspending Jefferson's license temporarily in January. The process of revoking someone's dentistry license takes awhile — there was a hearing with an administrative law judge and then the entire board had to convene to vote on the case, and once it had voted, there was still a waiting period to go through — but now it's all done.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean Jefferson will never practice again. While she is now permanently barred from obtaining a dentistry license in Texas, if Jefferson is licensed somewhere else, that state's dental board will have to determine her eligibility there.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.