Dentistry has long been viewed as a cornerstone of ethics and responsibility. This is really saying a tremendous amount considering dentistry is a self-governed profession. It would be very easy for an unethical dentist to push the limits and break the rules of the Code of Conduct. This could also be very lucrative.
So, what holds a dentist accountable to being ethical? Ultimately, only the dentist can hold himself or herself to this high code of ethical standards. According to the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Behavior, you should be able to bank on 5 basic principles.
First on the list of these is to respect your patient. If you keep the wants and needs first and foremost in mind when treating patients, your practice will not only be successful, you will be deemed an ethical success and leader in your field.
Second on this list is to do no harm. This is also known as nonmaleficence. This builds on the first rule. Keep the respect of your patients first, but next you must not harm them in any of your procedures you perform on them.
Third on this list is to do good. This is also known as beneficence. Although this sounds similar to the last, it is really quite different. You can do no harm and yet still not do any good. It is crucial to have both of these working together. If you have all of the aforementioned three, your patient is off to a good start on being the real reason you practice.
Next on this list is to be fair. One would think in a successful business, and therefore practice, that this would be common sense. This does not mean only to treat your patient fairly to yourself, it means to treat your patients fairly amongst each other. You actually come second, or even further down the list, to your own patients. Every patient needs to be treated as equals.
Finally, on this list, is being truthful. This is yet another “common sense” practice for most businesses, but to some they must be reminded. If you always are truthful, with everyone involved in your practice, you will be on the fast-track to business success. This includes being truthful to yourself, your partners and colleagues, your staff, and most importantly, your patients.
This truncated list seems very common sense. Honestly, it is. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out, just a doctor! Overall, the practice of dentistry is easy. It is what we do every single day. It is the patient aspect of dentistry and the business aspect that will drive most dentists crazy. Don’t let the thoughts of how you can fail get in the way with how you are going to succeed. The basic principles of success are laid out here. With these, you can easily be a success.