Readers of Northwest Dentistry are invited to submit Letters to the Editor on topics related to articles or columns previously published in the journal. Letters written to express viewpoints about current policies or actions of the MDA or other agencies will be referred to an appropriate individual, department, or committee to directly respond to the author. The views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official policies of the Minnesota Dental Association, the Publications Committee, or Northwest Dentistry editorial staff. Letters will be accepted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 22, 2008
To the Editors,
I would like to make a clarification to all readers who appreciated “Community Service and Minnesota Dentists”, the outstanding Community Services Committee report on Project Homeless Connect’s dental services (Northwest Dentistry, Volume 87, Number 5, pages 35-37). These biannual events at the Minneapolis Convention Center are possible thanks to the remarkable commitment of the non-profit organization, Apple Tree Dental. Their generous donation of employees’ time, equipment, and expertise makes this dental service day an incredible success. Project Homeless Connect is one of many ways that Apple Tree Dental lives its mission to improve the oral health in the lives of people with special access needs who face barriers to care.
Adele Della Torre, D.D.S.
for Dental Services
Project Homeless Connect
Apple Tree Dental Board Member
October 28, 2008
To the Editors,
The September-October issue of Northwest Dentistry included an article titled “Case Update: Park Dental vs. American Dental Partners” (Northwest Dentistry, Volume 87, Number 5, pages 41-42), in which the authors discussed a court case between PDG, P.A. and American Dental Partners, Inc. (ADPI). The authors made some significant misstatements about the case. Most important, they suggested the jury’s verdict had something to do with the issue of whether practice management organizations violate the prohibition on corporate practice of dentistry, but it did not.
The authors seem to misunderstand the case, as well as the facts surrounding the arrangements between dental groups and ADPI, neither of which involves the corporate practice of dentistry. While space limitations do not permit us to address all of the problems with the article, we will attempt in this letter to set the record straight on some fundamental points.
After presenting a partial analysis of the case, the authors stated, “Unfortunately, the jury did not specifically address [the corporate practice] issue in its verdict.” The jury did not address the issue because it was thrown out by the judge. PDG initially claimed ADPI was unlawfully practicing dentistry and their service agreement was therefore illegal, but the judge determined that claim had no merit and dismissed it months before the trial. As a result, the article’s premise — that significant issues about ADPI and corporate practice were raised in the jury verdict — is simply wrong.
A brief review of ADPI’s contract structure shows it is not engaged in the corporate practice of dentistry. ADPI acts only as a practice manager to dental groups, such as ours. ADPI leases facilities, provides equipment, employs the office staff, and provides other business services for the dental groups. The dentists in each of our offices belong to professional firms that contract with ADPI for these services. However, the dentists have complete control over all aspects of the practice of dentistry. ADPI has never impeded patient care or interfered with the dentists’ clinical judgment at any of our dental practices.
Finally, the primary issue the article attempts to raise was addressed long ago. In an opinion given to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry in 1984, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office reviewed a business relationship similar to ADPI’s model in light of the statute prohibiting anyone other than a licensed dentist from operating or managing a dental office. Recognizing the realities of modern practice and that the primary purpose of the law is to protect patients, the opinion made a distinction between the clinical and business aspects of a dental practice and said the statute applies to the operation and management of the clinical aspects.
We hope we have helped set the record straight, and we invite readers to analyze the article in light of these facts not originally presented.
Dr. David Milbrath
Dr. Marcus Gustafson
Dr. Hugh Norsted
Dr. Cindy McGregor
Dr. Karl Biewald
MDA members and doctor leaders of American Dental Partners, Inc. affiliated practices in Minnesota