An article in The Journal of the American Dental Association titled “Are Advertisements That Offer ‘Free Second Opinions’ Ethical by Rod B. Wentworth (October 1, 2011, vol. 142, no. 10, pages 1199-1200) talks about the ethics involved with dentists advertising “free second opinions.”
In the article it says
“So simply offering free second opinions is not in and of itself unethical. It is perfectly acceptable for a patient to seek a second opinion. In fact, dentists should consider suggesting that their patients obtain second opinions, especially when they have questions or concerns about the appropriateness of the recommended treatment.”
One issue raised in the article is that in a second opinion, if a patient has any x-rays they should be sent along with the patient for the second opinion to avoid unnecessary radiation.
The other issue raised is giving second opinions without making disparaging remarks about the patient’s dentist from the first opinion also known as jousting. Doing so can result in possible disciplinary action against the dentist and may have potential legal implications but as a patient if it was warranted I would like to hear the truth.
The purpose of a free second opinion would of course be to help dentists take patients away from each other.
I think second opinions from different dentists is a good idea in some cases but as addressed in this post http://blog.teethremoval.com/are-dentists-ethical-or-scam-artists/ knowing whether a dentist is being too conservative, too aggressive, or somewhere in the middle is difficult often for patients to know. I tend to think more dentists at least in the U.S. lean towards the aggressive side but certainly some are more conservative in their treatment approaches.
The author ends by saying
“Second opinions are not cut-and-dried in an ethical sense. Advertising them certainly is not unethical, and patients are free to select the dentist of their choice, which they may do on the basis of the information received in a second opinion. However, certain actions, such as criticizing a dentist unjustly, administering unnecessary tests or treatment, or misrepresenting fees, skills or experience may be unethical. Only the dentists involved know their motivation and whether it leads to unethical conduct. One hopes that dentists will take the high road to ensure that the oral health of the public and the welfare of patients are of primary importance”