The American Dental Association: Is it Patient-Centered, Science-Based and Ethically-driven?

Some time recently (within the past 6 months) the ADA (American Dental Association) has updated their about me page over at http://www.ada.org/aboutada.aspx. A new video appears and under it the text reads

“This American Dental Association video tells our story and highlights how the ADA has always been a patient-centered, science-based and ethically-driven association. It captures the ADA’s spirit and what the ADA strives to be.”

Viewing the video the words patient centered, science-based, and ethically-driven are repeated. The video also throws around the terms continuous learning, research and development, patents, and up to date. In one segment a dentist presumably says do no harm, always do good, treat people with fairness and honesty, and respect the doctor patient relationship.

Unfortunately I disagree with the ADA’s assertion that they have always been patient-centered, science-based, and ethically-driven. As stated before on this website, see for example this blog post http://blog.teethremoval.com/the-war-on-healthcare-patients-who-hate-doctors I was never made clear that wisdom teeth were no longer commonly removed in other countries prior to having my healthy wisdom teeth extracted in June of 2006. Guidelines from SIGN and NICE existed in 1999 and 2000 respectively see http://www.teethremoval.com/controversy.html.

If the ADA was always a patient-centered, science-based and ethically-driven association why wasn’t this information made clear at the time. We are talking six years after the guidelines came to light. I am willing to give some leeway here as being up to date with all the new information coming out can be very challenging, but six years is just too long. This information was not found on the ADA’s website or other U.S. based physician/dental organizations.

Furthermore why at the time was information on complications related to wisdom teeth extraction so lacking. Look if constant pain very much so beyond numbness is a complication of removing wisdom teeth, why was this never disclosed? Isn’t this relevant to the discussion?

Let’s highlight a legal case of a complication from wisdom teeth extraction as displayed at http://www.teethremoval.com/dental_malpractice.html

“An attorney, won a total of $503,923.59 for a woman that had her lingual nerve bilateraly severed and a dental burr (drill bit) left in her mouth ….. She suffered from depression, pain, and anxiety and was unable to eat, sleep or open her mouth for weeks after the surgery and could not speak correctly for months… When she gets tired she has a hard time enunciating words…. The broken burr remains in her mouth.”

For one, it baffles me that a possibility that the dental burr can break off during surgery and be permanently left in the mouth does not have to be disclosed. Furthermore, it baffles me that the possibility that a thermal burn can occur during wisdom teeth extraction is not disclosed. Why is this information not disclosed and really even acknowledged? I only came to be aware of it by pouring over hundreds and hundreds of documents.

In the past the ADA has argued for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages nationally in the U.S. How is this patient centered and ethically driven? The ADA does not seem to really disclose this information on their website. A $250,000 pain and suffering damage award for young injured patients can be unfair, unjust, and downright ridiculous in some instances.

Look I acknowledge that the ADA is taking steps to become patient-centered, science-based and ethically-driven but stating they have always been is in my opinion on weak footing.

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