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  • Published : December 11, 2012
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ETHICS HANDBOOK FOR DENTISTS

An Introduction to Ethics, Professionalism, and Ethical Decision Making

PDF Version 2012

ETHICS HANDBOOK FOR DENTISTS

An Introduction to Ethics, Professionalism, and Ethical Decision Making

Prepared by American College of Dentists 839J Quince Orchard Boulevard Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878-1614

AN APPEAL
Follow impulses and leaderships that represent ideals; that point the way to your professional destiny; that express integrity, fidelity, service, and lofty purposes—the finest that is in you individually and professionally! William J. Gies July 11, 1937

PURPOSE
The American College of Dentists dedicates this handbook to the dental profession with the expectation that it will serve as a useful introduction to ethics, professionalism, and ethical decision making. It is intended to heighten ethical and professional responsibility, promote ethical conduct in dentistry, advance dialogue on ethical issues, and stimulate further reflection on common ethical problems in dental practice. It is not intended to solve specific ethical dilemmas. Dentists are strongly encouraged to further their understanding of ethics and ethical issues beyond this introduction. Dentists should familiarize themselves with the prevailing laws, regulations, and standards that affect their decisions. For those who seek the privileges and responsibilities of a dental professional, this handbook will serve as an introduction to the challenges and opportunities ahead and provide insights to a successful career.

Copyright © 2000-2012 American College of Dentists All rights reserved. Revised 2012 Printed in the United States of America A project of the American College of Dentists Foundation ii

CONTENTS
Purpose Be a Professional The Professional and . . . Citizenship Scientific literature, Research, Licensure Professional Ethics Review What is meant by “ethics?” Why are ethics important? What are codes of ethics? Should I care more about being legal or being ethical? What is a “profession?” What is a “professional?” What is “professionalism?” Do we really have obligations to patients? Can dentistry be both a business and a profession? What is meant by the “best interests” of our patients? What is “paternalism?” Is good risk management good ethics? What about compromising quality? Ethical Issues of . . . Abuse of prescriptions by patients Access to dental care Advertising Child abuse Competence and judgment Confidentiality Dating patients Delegation of duties Disclosure and misrepresentation Emergency care Financial arrangements Harassment Informed consent and refusal Managed care Obligation to treat patients Refraining from treatment Ethical Decision Making Decision Principles, Elements, and Models The ACD Test for Ethical Decisions American College of Dentists Core Values Adopted by the American College of Dentists References, Ethics Resources, Contact iii ii iv

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BE A PROFESSIONAL
Your charge as a dentist is to be a professional. If you are going to call yourself a professional, if you want to be recognized as a professional, and if you want to be a professional, then you must conduct yourself as one. Otherwise you run the risk of assuming the title without accepting the obligations. On receiving your degree in dentistry, you officially became a participant in a profession. Do not assume that a participant is necessarily a professional. Strive to become a dental professional in the truest sense of the term. What does this really mean? A professional respects patients for their unique needs and values. A professional places patients’ interests first and foremost, with only rare, legitimate exceptions. A professional always considers patients’ values and relevant personal preferences. A professional has integrity. A professional is honest. A professional is competent. A professional strives to...
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