Dental board weighs bringing more charges against Kippax

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AUGUSTA — Lewiston oral surgeon Jan Kippax is not off the hook yet.

Though the Maine Board of Dental Practice determined last month that the longtime dentist had not violated professional standards of care in his treatment of five patients who filed complaints, the board is leaving the door open to hearing more cases.

The nine-member board recently declined to renew Kippax’s dental license, which expired Dec. 31. Instead, the board has opted to keep his existing license in place until it makes a “final determination.”

Kippax, who has strongly denied mistreating patients, is allowed to continue his practice while the board weighs its options.

One of the patients whose complaint was not part of the hearing, Donna Deigan, said Tuesday the board needs to keep trying.

“The repeated tortue that Dr. Kippax inflicts upon vulnerable human beings needs to be taken seriously,” she said. “He is abusive, and the board cannot continue to enable him and overlook the facts.”

Deigan said she “was in that chair” and “I know what he did to me.”

“I have not been to a dentist in three years because of him” and now “may lose all my teeth,” Deigan said. “I have nightmares every time I see his face.”

The Kippax case has raised questions about whether the public has been protected properly by Maine’s regulatory system.

At a session of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee this month, Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D-Sanford, questioned if the dental-oversight system is adequate.

She told the dental board’s executive director, Penny Vaillancourt, “You know exactly what I’m referring to in terms of an oral surgeon who had so many complaints,” Maine Public reported recently.

Vaillancourt, however, said she is satisfied the system works. She also mentioned the case remains open.

It is not clear what the dental panel might try next, if anything. Its members were told by a hearing officer last month not to discuss the case since it might not be over.

Almost a year ago, the board suspended Kippax from practicing for a month, citing 195 allegations leveled by 18 patients. The suspension lapsed in March when the board failed to bring Kippax before a hearing within the statutory time limit.

By the time the board held a hearing, which began in September, assistant attorneys general who were handling the case had pared down the case to charges lodged by five of the patients who saw Kippax in 2015 and 2016.

By the end of December, after two expert witnesses testified that Kippax had done nothing wrong, the board ruled the state failed to prove its case on any of the charges.

It can, however, return to some of the other allegations raised by the 13 patients whose cases were not heard. There may also be complaints filed that never have been mentioned in public.

For now, Kippax is free to work as a dentist in Maine. He also has licenses to practice in Vermont and Massachusetts.

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Dr. Jan Kippax at Maine Board of Dental Practice in December. (Sun Journal file photo)

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