A sign on the door of Dr. Robert Benjamin “RB” Koch’s dental practice says Dr. Anthony Simon of AA Dental in The Dalles will be covering for Koch’s patients, and that Koch’s practice is closed until further notice.
Koch, 58, remained jailed Friday on felony charges of strangulation and fourth-degree assault, as well as two other misdemeanor charges. One is a no-bail hold on a misdemeanor probation violation charge for allegedly contacting the victim from a previous fourth-degree domestic violence charge.
Koch is also charged with interfering with making a police report. He was arrested Jan. 4.
In late November he signed an interim consent order with the Oregon Board of Dentistry in which he agrees not to practice dentistry or prescribe medicine pending further order of the board. The board approved it in mid-December.
The Board of Dentistry’s case against him was opened in 2016. Stephen Prisby, executive director of the board, said that cases are typically completed within 10 months, but they can be more lengthy for a multitude of reasons.
At least one person posted on social media that they had unfinished work by Koch that their insurance had already paid for.
Prisby said patients in that circumstance should call their insurance company. “See what they want to do about it first, and then it might go through the Department of Justice or the insurance division here in the state.”
Prisby said the dental board “can only do so much.” He urged patients to first try calling their dentist.
The number for Koch’s practice is no longer a working number. The phone number posted on the notice on Koch’s door is the phone number for Simon’s office.
A woman who answered the phone at Simon’s office said she had no comment.
A new rule requires dentists who are closing a practice or retiring to retain records for a certain amount of time, Prisby said.
“If this doctor’s going to end up closing or retiring or transferring, he’s got to do certain things,” Prisby said. He said the rule came about in 2017 in response to consumers who were concerned they couldn’t get records when doctors closed offices.
He said if doctors don’t follow the rules, they can be subject to the dentistry board taking action against them.
He said anyone could call the dentistry board “and we can figure out a plan to get those records out of there.” The board’s number is (971) 673-3200.
Prisby said dentists usually have malpractice insurance, but it was too early to know if Koch has it.
Prisby said the dentistry board has just eight employees to oversee more than 3,000 practicing dentists, “so we’re complaint-driven” in terms of investigations of possible wrongdoing.
“We don’t have an army of investigators out in the field. It’s a profession that you hope is acting in the best interest for the public safety, but there are some bad apples,” he said.
Dentists have to seek re-licensure every two years, and they are required to report misdemeanor convictions and felony arrests or convictions, according to state statute.
As for the types of arrests that are required to be reported, Prisby said the reporting requirements are “related to, can they practice safely and within what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Investigative records of the board of dentistry are not subject to public disclosure.