Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Professional Ethics...

Healthcare, Quality of Life

I had the opportunity this morning to see my dentist for what I expected would be the removal and replacement of a filling that had discolored.  I was seated in the chair while the color of the filling was determined and then the dentist walked in.

He looked closely at the tooth and then stepped back and asked if I had ever had root canal performed on that tooth.  I didn't know the answer, so an x-ray was taken of that tooth and it revealed that there was no root canal.  It also revealed that there was more filling than tooth and a discussion followed.

The dentist didn't want to proceed without me having made some decisions.  He said, first, that this was the kind of tooth that didn't hurt before the procedure but could be painful after the procedure.  He advised what he would do if I approved, and why he would be doing what he'd proposed.  There was danger that the remaining tooth structure would not support the level of work required and that I could then be faced with the need for a crown.  The crown was the much preferred solution and that was quite apparent as we reviewed the possibilities.

The result is that my dental insurer is being asked whether or not the crown would be covered, and, if so, when that would be.  I will then make an informed decision.  So, I sat in the chair for another five minutes and discussed professional ethics with my dentist since I was impressed that he never wavered nor suggested ways "around" the problem that might not have been exactly correct.

This dentist is also an instructor for 'dentists to be' and we spoke of the professional ethics courses that these students were involved with where real life questions were put to them for decisions.  Among those real life situations were the person who asked for the date of service to be made to fit the coverage so that a claim would be paid, or the dentist who was confronted by the company or union boss with a demand to do something that wasn't ethical.  These were but two of the dozen or more situations that each student experiences in order that they may be prepared when confronted in real life.

It is unfortunate that insurers have to be wary, but they get stung regularly where a practitioner has stretched the truth or fudged a date or changed a diagnosis code so that the procedure would be covered.  This is part of the higher and higher cost of insurance.

I felt very fortunate to have chosen such a professional and ethical dentist, and felt even better knowing that he was training future dentists.

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The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled "Public Health Plan Not Threatening?"

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