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Letters: Telephone solicitation

October 19, 2015

Just saw your short notification regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“Laws May Prohibit Texting and Calling Patients,” Sept. 7 ADA News). Please review the act and see Section 227, (a) DEFINITIONS, (4) which states:

“The term ‘telephone solicitation’ means the initiation of a telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does not include a call or message (A) to any person with that person’s prior express invitation or permission, (B) to any person with whom the caller has an established business relationship, or (C) by a tax exempt nonprofit organization.”

This would apply to dental offices making reminder appointment or recall/maintenance phone calls, as long as they are not soliciting or advertising other offers not related to the initial reason for the phone call.

Of course, it is wise to have them sign a written consent but I believe it is not, in most cases, necessary; and, by the wording of the act itself overreaching is not required.

I believe such an overreaching regulation would harm patients’ health; such as not allowing medical offices to call to remind women that their mammogram is due or give cancer patients the notification that they are due for a follow-up to check remission. Hence, such regulation will cause irreparable harm to patients.

Joseph P. Graskemper, D.D.S.
Bellport, New York

Editor’s note from ADA Division of Legal Affairs: Dr. Graskemper is correct concerning the definition of “telephone solicitation” in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and the ADA also believes, as you state, that it is wise to have patients sign a written consent. However, the ADA resource based on the TCPA is a Declaratory Ruling and Order that the Federal Communications Commission released on July 10, and at present the FCC has not limited this part of the regulation to telephone solicitations. The Declaratory Ruling and Order appears to expand compliance obligations under the act. Unless and until the FCC changes its approach, it would be prudent for dental practices to exercise caution and obtain consent as indicated in the Declaratory Ruling and Order, particularly if the dental practice, or a third party on behalf of the dental practice, makes calls concerning a patient’s account.