Oral Health Group

…Pants on Fire

September 1, 2004
by Catherine Wilson, Editor

Remember when there was something noble about certain professions–medical practitioners, police officers, firefighters, teachers? People who made positive contributions to society. People who dished out healthy dollops of compassion, caring and empathy.

Back then, (mostly) men in fedoras slipped into their sedans, did an honest day’s work helping every darn person they encountered, bounded through the door to be embraced by the bosom of their families and perhaps indulge in their favorite board games.


Now, not so much.

I’m all for keeping government out of the bedrooms of ‘consenting adults’ but where does that stack up versus the rights and the protection of those who go to persons in positions of trust in whose presence they should never feel vulnerable.

I’m speaking, in particular, of two recent high profile cases involving dentists. In one, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario took the highly unusual step of warning the public not to seek treatment from a dentist who might be practicing illegally. This dentist lost his licence following complaints ranging from sexual overtures to a patient, dropped instruments reappearing on trays, false billings and prescription writing abuses.

The other case involved a dentist who Toronto police said had the largest private collection of CHILD PORN in the country. He pleaded guilty to two counts of accessing and possessing thousands of images of CHILD PORN. More than one million images were seized. Children as young as four were on some of the film reels. The judge said he was required to give serious thought to incarceration. The dentist ‘got off’ with an 18-month conditional sentence. He is under suspension.

Shouldn’t a dentist recognize a responsibility not only to patients but to society, let alone to self? Is your morality nothing more than a silhouette that appears only when the light shines bright?

When you received your degree you became a participant in a profession. Don’t assume the title without accepting the responsibility. You have obligations. Ethics aren’t only about product liability or contractual matters or compensation issues.

As eloquently stated in the American College of Dentists’ course materials, a professional always considers patients’ values and relevant personal preferences. A professional is honest and has integrity. A professional is concerned about conduct and perceptions of conduct.

Trust is the most important asset a human can possess.

Sincerity does not equal truth.

There is a difference between being legal and being ethical.

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