AUGUSTA — The state’s decision to suspend the license of Lewiston oral surgeon Dr. Jan Kippax is an uncommon move. Stripping him from the chance to practice would be even more unusual.

The Maine Board of Dental Practice rarely suspends the license of any of the more than 600 dentists in the state and ultimately revokes their right to practice only about once every few years.

But a review of past cases makes it clear that the allegations made against Kippax by 18 former patients who filed formal complaints are especially serious and may lead it to bar him from the profession following a March 10 hearing.

Accusations that he failed to provide adequate pain relief, ignored patients’ pleas to stop, didn’t act to stem bleeding, kept expired medicine, ignored post-procedure exams and a host of other problems caused the board to suspend his license until March 17.

Though the first complaint included in the case concerned dental work performed by Kippax 26 months ago, only the suspension of his license has created urgency to resolve the case.

Unless new information emerges, officials said the panel has no statutory right to extend a suspension for more than 30 days, so they have to take action by March 16 or Kippax can return to his dental practice.

What that means in practical terms is that the disciplinary hearing has to be resolved fully within a week if overseers want to ensure Kippax doesn’t practice dentistry — unless he accepts a formal consent agreement that could potentially extend the deadline without letting him see patients.

The board doesn’t issue suspensions lightly.

Talking in general about the move during a recent board meeting, Dr. Paul Dunbar of Winslow, a member of the panel, said, “It takes a lot for us” to suspend a license even temporarily.

The board refused to discuss Kippax specifically because there is a pending case against him. It has also declined even to discuss the way it handles complaints generally.

The board’s preliminary findings, outlined in a Feb. 15 letter to the dentist’s attorney, called Kippax’s conduct “contrary to fundamental principles and standards of dentistry as a healing profession.”

In suspending Kippax’s license, it said he had “demonstrated lack of skill, lack of empathy, lack of respect for his parents and lack of commitment of serving his community in a safe and caring way.”

In its letter to Kippax’s lawyer, the board told him he is allowed to “present documentary evidence, oral testimony and argument” to the board at the March 10 hearing. It also warned him that if he doesn’t appear, the hearing may be held anyway and there could be “a disposition by default.”

The 23 preliminary findings cited by the board, taken as a whole, appear to raise far more concerns than at least some cases in recent years when the panel made sure dentists could no longer practice.

In 2014, for example, the panel revoked the dental license of Walter Melevsky for violating infection-control rules.

In that case, it said Melevsky “displayed incompetence,” acted unprofessionally and failed to comply with the conditions of an earlier probation.

In 2015, the board accepted the surrender of Dr. Robert Bruce’s license after receiving unstated complaints that raised concerns for patient safety. Bruce retired and voluntarily gave up his license.

In some cases, though, the board has reached consent agreements that mandate that dental professionals who fall within its purview agree to follow accepted standards and rules, sometimes paying fines and occasionally remaining on probation for a period that can last for years.

Kippax knows from personal experience how it can go.

In 2002, regulators briefly suspended him and then placed him on a five-year probation for unprofessional conduct reported by nine former employees. He faced suspension again in 2003 and wound up with another five-year probation that ended in April 2008.

Kippax was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and was required to reimburse the board $2,874 in hearing costs. He was also mandated to pay for dental implants for three former patients, at a total cost of $14,000.

In addition to the 18 cases, a number of Kippax’s former patients have spoken up about their experiences with him, including one who said he removed excess teeth and another who said he pulled teeth without using any painkillers.

Kippax has operated a busy oral surgery practice on Main Street for many years. He has had a license to practice dentistry in Maine since 1985, shortly after he graduated from dentistry school at Boston University.

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