Texas State Board of Dental Examiners Revokes Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson's License

The dentist responsible for the mistreatment of a four-year-old Houston girl, which caused severe brain damage to the child, no longer has a license to practice dentistry in the state of Texas.

The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners on Friday permanently revoked the license of Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson, barring her from practicing dentistry in the state.

Recently we reported the unsettling case of Nevaeh Hall, the young girl who 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 with the state board when she treated Nevaeh.

In January, the State Board of Dental Examiners moved quickly and decisively, finding that the “continued practice of dentistry by Bethaniel Jefferson, D.D.S.…would constitute a clear imminent or continuing threat to a person’s physical health or well being.” After an emergency meeting over what had happened to Nevaeh, the board suspended Jefferson’s license temporarily.

In the board's vote Friday morning, one member abstained, but the rest of the board voted to revoke her license, and the revocation will become final in 25 days, according to State Board of Dental Examiners spokeswoman Lara Anton. Jefferson can file for rehearing during that time, and if the request for rehearing is denied, the revocation will become final at that time.

However, Anton notes, the board has jurisdiction only over the practice of dentistry in Texas. If Jefferson is licensed in another state, that state would determine her eligibility to practice there.
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Dianna Wray is a nationally award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Houston, she writes about everything from NASA to oil to horse races.
Contact: Dianna Wray