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Letters: Questioning amendment

February 20, 2017 The Nov. 7, 2016, edition of the ADA News reported in “Resolution Amends Code of Ethics” on an amendment to Section 5.H. of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Conduct, which has undermined one of the single most important reasons that the ADA has existed up until this sad day.

While the ADA is considered to be a trade organization by the federal government, the high standards developed which our nine (formerly) recognized specialties adhered to were not put in place to protect the specialties themselves, but were in fact put in place to protect the public.

So while the government thinks of us as a trade organization, we rise to the level of a profession only when we hold ourselves to standards of education, behavior and ethics that are far above the minimal standards as defined by the law.

We understand that this is a time of change. To many people, ideals that once stood on firm bedrock have now become fungible. Members of the American Dental Association should expect an association which does not bend in the face of adverse events. While we understand that recent court rulings have undermined the positions we have held regarding our recognized specialties, and have undermined the standing which the ADA itself has held in the recognition process, we should not abandon these positions just because they are under attack.

Better the House of Delegates should have set aside a few million dollars out of reserves to fight the good fight on behalf of our specialties, both legislatively and through the courts if necessary.

We must have the courage to do what is right for the nine recognized specialties. As a former member of the ADA House of Delegates, I can assure you that in times past I have seen our specialties put aside their own proprietary interests for the good of all dentists. Now is our chance to return the favor.

If not corrected the likely conclusion to this timid action will be that specialists will no longer find a compelling need to belong to the ADA.

Without the ADA to provide resources and joint support, in time we stand to lose about 24 percent of membership.

Our recognized specialties will respect us more if we leave no stone unturned in our attempt to show the world that the traditional standards are an important touchstone in protecting the interests of a public which has fewer and fewer reliable sources for obtaining unbiased information about dentistry.

Even if we cannot prevail in maintaining the previous status of our specialties they should remember that when it mattered, we stood with them arm in arm to do the right thing for the right reasons.

As two general dentists, we the undersigned respectfully ask the ADA to rescind the amendment to 5.H. as passed at the 2016 House of Delegates and return to its previously held Code of Ethics, with the understanding that the ADA will commit to actively reversing any trends which undermine the status of the nine recognized specialties.  

Alan E. Friedel, D.D.S.
Hollywood, Florida
Frederick E. Knoll, D.D.S.
Miami

Editor’s note: Dr. Michael H. Halasz, chair of the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs notes that the council thoroughly considered the ethical issues surrounding the announcement of specialty practice in the months leading up to the 2016 House of Delegates. A full explanation of why the council proposed the revisions to Section 5.H. of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct adopted by the House of Delegates is contained in the February issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.