There is a growing concern that corporate employers pressure their employee dentists to perform procedures that conflict with the ethical codes of the dental profession.

There have been numerous cases citing corporate pressures interfering with dentists’ clinical decisions. The underlying theme in most of the complaints is that the practices’ bottom lines are considered a higher priority than the patients’ well being. Ultimately, practicing dentistry in a culture that puts the profits of its shareholders above the well-being of its patients, “forces” dentists to walk along an ethical ledge.

Of course, privately owned dental offices have ethical blunders of their own, and the recent infection control tragedy in Oklahoma does not improve the public’s faith in our profession.

However, we should all know that the sometimes fraudulent behavior practiced in some corporate dental offices is so extensive that it caught the attention of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate.

In June, the Senate Committee released a review of the Corporate Practice of Dentistry in the Medicaid Program. The Senate claims that the “ownership structure used by some dental management companies is fundamentally deceptive” and that “these clinics have been cited for conducting unnecessary treatments”.

You can download the full review here.

Or you can read an excerpt here.

In most markets, corporate dentistry appears here to stay. However, our profession needs to take a leading role in writing a narrative that both informs and educates dentists (as employees) and patients (as consumers) about the pros and cons of working for and seeking care from a corporate practice.


photo credit: Joseph.Morris via photopin cc