For all contractual and legal intents and purposes, a dentist is a provider of services, while the patient who consents to treatment is a consumer. A dentist's fees reflect, in part, the cost of malpractice insurance protection. Dentists can also calculate into their fees any refunds they may pay back to patients who suffer adverse results.8 An injured patient on the other hand has limited means of protection against damages resulting from the wrongful acts of dentists. The options open to patients include: (1) filing a complaint in civil court, (2) reporting the incident to a government agency such as the a local dental association. A patient who submits a complaint against a member dentist of a local component of the American Dental Association ("ADA") will initiate a dispute resolution process referred to as peer review. Hospitals and other medical institutions utilize a similar system to resolve disputes and to maintain high standards of care for their patients. Peer review consists of evaluations or diagnostic reviews by a panel of dentists directed at treatment provided by a fellow dentist charged with practicing below the local community's standard of care. This comment will take a closer look at the peer review process by evaluating the system currently utilized by the California Dental Association ("CDA"). Part II provides a short background of the ADA, its relationship with the CDA and the CDA's formation of their peer review system. Part III discusses the purpose and model of CDA's peer review system, and describes the steps involved in the mediation process. Part IV presents an illustrative example of the peer review process. Part V, explores how the patient and dentist benefit from participating in the peer review system. Finally, Part VI concludes.
Lisa C. Markarian,
Brushing Off Lawsuits: Dental Peer Review Examined ,
6 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/drlj/vol6/iss3/5