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Letters: More on 'creative diagnosis'

March 03, 2014

Dr. William Weller's letter of complaint of unnecessary dentistry ("Creative Diagnosis," Jan. 20 ADA News) was answered by the director of his state dental society as merely "professional disagreement."

Dr. Weller should also consider Part IV of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct (Interpretation and Application of 'Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct'), which sets forth the ethical duties binding upon all ADA members as follows:

"Anyone who believes that a member dentist has acted unethically should bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate constituent (state) or component (local) dental society."

Dr. Weller should file a written complaint of unnecessary dentistry with his dental society's ethics committee citing Section V Principle: Veracity. This section mandates that dentists "have a duty to be honest … communicating truthfully and without deception."

Until dentists better police our own profession it should be no surprise that too many instances of overtreatment continue or that attorneys take up the slack of patient protection.

Edwin Zinman, D.D.S.
San Francisco

Editor's note: When considering the possibility of reporting alleged instances of overtreatment (or any other allegation of unethical conduct), practitioners should consider the Advisory Opinion to Section 4.C. of the Code of Ethics that states in part: "the dentist should exercise care that the comments made are truthful, informed and justifiable. This should, if possible, involve consultation with the previous treating dentist(s), in accordance with applicable law, to determine under what circumstances and conditions the treatment was performed. A difference in opinion as to preferred treatment should not be communicated … in a manner which would unjustly imply mistreatment. There will necessarily be cases where it will be difficult to determine whether the comments made are justifiable. Therefore, this section is phrased to address the discretion of dentists and advises against unknowing or unjustifiable disparaging statements against another dentist. However, it should be noted that, where comments are made which are not supportable and therefore unjustified, such comments can be the basis for the institution of a disciplinary action against the dentist making such statements."