Management + Leadership

Book review: A Dentist’s Guide to the Law

Note: This book was written by the legal team at the ADA and because they are not all licensed to practice law outside of Illinois (where the ADA headquarters are located), the primary focus of the legal information present is in terms of federal law.

My thoughts: This book answers 288 of the most commonly asked legal questions in dentistry. It is a unique style of formatting because it is written as a Q and A. Specifically, in using this resource, it is important to approach it as a reference regarding the legal framework surrounding a particular issue and how to approach it. It has a primary focus on federal law and does not necessarily state the law exactly as written, but rather frames the answer to the questions in a legal context.

Additionally, it covers a variety of topics from how to handle dental lawsuits to compliance policies. Some topics I found particularly useful for students are the sections on diagnosis and treatment, HIPAA, trade law and PCI DSS: Patient information, contracts, and common dental agreements.

Contracts and common dental agreements fall under the larger category of business considerations. This section is important for dental students bordering graduation because they cover information on contracts. Since we will most likely have to sign a contract or some written agreement before starting a job, it is important to understand what we are signing up for once our signatures hit the dotted line. Additionally, common dental agreements cover important issues that new graduates may run into such as what owner dentists include in an associate agreement or how restricted covenants work. While both of the sections are framed from the owner dentist’s point of view, I find it an important read because as students, we will be on the receiving end of the issue. We need to understand what to look for and why associate agreements include different inclusions and exclusions and how after quitting or termination our practice areas are limited by restricted covenants.

The diagnosis and treatment section has great information on informed consent. The book explains how to handle different consensual situations and patient situations by providing the gold standard of care when they don’t agree to your treatment plans.

Also, the most relevant section to students is the section titled HIPAA, State law, and PCI DDS. This section is important because HIPAA compliance begins the moment we start seeing patients. We have a responsibility and duty to protect their privacy. It answers important questions such as knowing when to follow HIPAA versus state law, patient records and when does patient authorization need to be given in order to share patient information. These are all things I highly recommend reading to gain some understanding and the knowledge to practice proper HIPAA policies as students.

Final thoughts: This book has an abundance of information written in an easy-to-process Q & A format. It is in fact quite long and contains a lot of information that pertains to owner dentists. However, it also has a very resourceful appendix section at the end of the book that gives examples of documents a student or new graduate may run into in the future, such as a sample employee associate agreement and a new employee checklist.

Ultimately, I think this book is a good resource that provides legal information in bite-sized sections that are made easy to understand for non-lawyers. However, while this book has a lot of information, not all of it is relevant to dental students directly. It is good to have as a place to start when seeking legal information. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that this resource only provides the basics of how to approach the law regarding dentistry, and it focuses on federal not state law. Thus, I still recommend hiring a lawyer after school to help represent you in any of these situations.

Overall review: 4/5

~Christine Chen, Washington ’19, District 10 trustee

Christine Chen

Christine Chen is a second year student at the University of Washington. She currently serves as ASDA's District 10 trustee. Service in the community is hugely important to her, and she loves to do dental volunteering, as well as serving in the community with her church. Outside of school, she enjoys baking delicious treats, salsa dancing the night away, and her favorite philanthropic cause is domestic violence awareness.

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  40. Thanks for the book to share with us, Does this book contain question related dental patient financing??

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  44. Thanks for sharing!

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