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New ethics hotline offered as a member benefit

Those confronted with questions encouraged to call

February 04, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Dr. Salierno

Dr. Henner
A collaboration of an ADA council, committee and staff has yielded a new member benefit: an ethics hotline.

The Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, with help from the New Dentist Committee and the ADA Member Service Center, planned to launch the new hotline Feb. 1 at press time.

According to Thomas Elliott, ADA deputy general counsel and CEBJA director, members who are confronted with ethical questions can call the new hotline, provide some information about the issues, and receive a callback from a CEBJA member to discuss the application of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct to the situations in which they are involved.

“This is an opportunity to reach out to experts in the ADA and get some advice,” said Dr. Chris Salierno, chair of the New Dentist Committee and current ex officio member of CEBJA. “Legal advice won't be given. The idea is to provide members a chance to just get some direction on what the next steps are so they can sort their way out of what may be perplexing ethical dilemmas.”

Dr. Kevin Henner, CEBJA chair, said that the ethics hotline is to be staffed by 12 CEBJA volunteers on a rotating basis with the goal being that a caller gets a response as quickly as possible.

“The idea is that this is going to have a very rapid turnaround time because sometimes an ethical dilemma needs to be reacted to very quickly,” Dr. Henner said. “The goal is that the caller will get a response within two to three days, unless a quicker response is specified by the caller. If the caller says, 'I need to know tomorrow,' then the volunteers and staff will do everything in their power to make that happen.”

Dr. Rex Yanase was spending a year's term on CEBJA, a rotation served by members of the New Dentist Committee, when the idea for the hotline was conceived. “I definitely think that it's going to be a tremendous membership benefit, especially for new dentists,” Dr. Yanase said.

“Typically, new dentists come out and we're associates. We don't typically own our practices right out of dental school. So I think just to have this avenue to be able to call and get some ethical advice or direction is going to be a tremendous opportunity and great value.”

Dr. Yanase said that, though initially the ethics hotline is targeting new dentists, the intention is to expand it to a member benefit for all ADA members.
“The thought was to start with the new dentists, and to specifically target and promote and advertise to new dentists in collaboration with CEBJA and the NDC, and then from there grow it to everybody,” he said. “But every ADA member will be able to participate and enjoy this benefit.”

Dentists who use the ethics hotline will need to provide their ADA member number, but details of their cases will be kept in strict confidence, Dr. Henner said. The data regarding ethics dilemmas presented through the hotline eventually may aid the ADA in identifying newly emerging ethical concerns.

“It'll be really interesting to get some data back and find out what are the common, real-life, in-the-trenches dilemmas that dentists are facing,” Dr. Salierno said.

“If CEBJA starts to see some trends, it can respond accordingly. CEBJA can refine the ADA Code to be clearer if needed or generate more literature and materials for dentists if trends in a certain direction are detected.”

Members may access the new member service by calling the ADA toll-free number and stating that they have a question for the ethics hotline.