Governor signs ‘Finley’s Law’ to establish new rules at dental offices

A new law now mandates certain rules at dental officials, and some lawmakers believe it’s one of the most important consumer protection measures they’ve passed in a long time.

The changes come after a 3-year-old patient, Finley Boyle, died following a routine root canal back in 2013.

Boyle’s mother, Ashley Puleo, has been pushing for better standards and wants to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.

Now that the measure has become law, dental offices that use sedation and anesthesia will have a year to comply.

Puleo, her three-month-old daughter Leila, and her family attended Monday’s bill signing. It’s a measure she has pushed so hard for.

Puleo could not talk to us on-camera, but thanked everyone who helped make Act 106 what it is today.

“This bill is extremely important to me,” Puleo said. “I look forward to working with everybody in the future and continue to protect our children.”

Starting July 1, 2018, when you walk into a dental office that uses general anesthesia or deep-to-moderate sedation, you should find a sign with contact information for the state’s consumer protection agency. This makes it easier for patients to check licenses, complaint history, or to file a complaint.

The new law also requires on-site inspections. In the past, inspections were not mandated by law.

“We go for one inspection the initial when they apply for their permit. We go out to their office to make sure that they have everything that they need,” said Dr. Paul Guevara, dentist and chair of the Board of Dental Examiners. “Actually we’ve gone through what we want in the inspection, so it’s actually a more rigorous inspection than what the law has stated, so we are doing a very in-depth inspection of the offices.”

Rep. Della Au Belatti says the Board of Dental Examiners is in charge of enforcement.

“Some departments have been known to take up to two years to promulgate rules. This instance we have specified it must be done a year from now,” she said.

If the requirements are not met by then, penalties include suspension, cancellation, or rejection of a license, and dentists could pay a fine and even face imprisonment.

“Any time there is a loss of a child, there is sadness, so I think this is probably a bittersweet day for them,” said Belatti, “but as I said, there is much that can be celebrated on this day, because I think children in the future will be protected because of this law.”

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