July 4, 2022

Does dentistry face an ethical dilemma?

Dentistry has its fair share of scandals, lawsuits, commercialisation, self-promotion and doctors who prescribe excessive treatments.

Dentistry has its fair share of scandals, lawsuits, commercialisation, self-promotion and doctors who prescribe excessive treatments. So said a presentation on ethics at the recent American Dental Association annual session in Las Vegas. In fact, a Google search on ethical scandals shows that dentistry now gets more results than nursing, medicine, chiropractics and pharmacology, said Ann Boyle, of Southern Illinois University. Dr Boyle noted that some of the public’s changing attitudes toward dentistry can be traced to widespread media coverage of malpractice lawsuits and scandals involving medical professionals.

Boyle points out a 1997 Reader’s Digest article in which the author visited 50 dentists in 28 states to see how many different treatment plans he could get. Before the survey, the author had made his own plans with his dentist and 3 others who participated in the investigation. All agreed that one tooth needed a crown. However, the 50 treatment plans he received ranged from 3 dentists who prescribed no treatment to a recommendation for 21 crowns and 6 veneers at a price of almost US$30,000. “Whether we like it or not, this article clearly left the impression that some of us were planning excessive care and could not be trusted,” Dr. Boyle said.

She said she recalled hearing from exasperated emergency room doctors who complained that patients came to them for treatment because no dentist would see them. “We must… realize that these front-line physicians consider us uncaring, selfish, and greedy and unprofessional and will tell anyone who will listen, including politicians.” ~ Dental Practice Management, Oct 25

Does dentistry face an ethical dilemma?
Jared Yee
bioethics
dentistry
malpractice