October 8, 2014
October 6, 2014
My office has represented several patients in the past who have been victims of various nefarious activity by their dentist. One I remember was when the doctor supplied his patients with credit card applications to complete and pay for the sort of creative diagnosis he would come up with. In one instance, he even forged the signature of my client on one such application. When my client objected, the dentist filed a lawsuit against my client who then came and saw me. My office vigorously defendant the dentist’s lawsuit which ended up not only be dismissed but resulted in a settlement where the dentist ended up paying my client. Unfortunately, I see this sort of behavior by dentists is not very uncommon.
The article, by longtime pediatric dentist Jeffrey Camm, described a disturbing trend he called “creative diagnosis”—the peddling of unnecessary treatments. William van Dyk, a Northern California dentist of 41 years, saw Camm’s op-ed and wrote in: “I especially love the patients that come in for second opinions after the previous dentist found multiple thousands of dollars in necessary treatment where nothing had been found six months earlier. And, when we look, there is nothing to diagnose.”
“In recent years, I have been seeing more and more creative diagnosis,” Camm told me when I called him at his practice in Washington state. A dentist, he said, might think, “‘Well, the insurance covers this crown, so I’m not hurting this patient, so why don’t I just do it?’ That’s the absolutely wrong approach.”
Poking around, I found plenty of services catering to dentists hoping to increase their incomes. One lecturer at a privately operated seminar called The Profitable Dentist $389 aimed to help “dentists to reignite their passion for dentistry while increasing their profit and time away from the office.” Even the ADA’s 2014 annual conference offered tips for maximizing revenue: “Taking time to help our patients want what we know they need,” notes one session description, “can drive the economic and reward engine of our practice.”