When problems arise between the patient and the dentist, the dentist, if a member of organized dentistry (American Dental Association and its various state components), may suggest to the patient that submitting the problem to peer review may be the most efficient, cost-effective, and constructive option. Peer review is an impartial mechanism to resolve disputes between the patient and the dentist about appropriateness of treatment and the quality of care. As will be discussed in dentistry’s social contract in Chapter 17, self- or internal discipline (which is required of a profession via its social contract) is fulfilled through the establishment of peer review.
Peer review is usually initiated by a patient’s complaint or by a dentist with the patient’s consent. Both parties, the dentist and the patient, must sign an agreement to abide by the findings of the peer review and to agree not to sue each other. The fees or payments that relate to the complaint may be placed in an escrow account by one or both parties. The maximum amount refunded to the patient is the fees paid for the treatment. All proceedings are confidential and the proceedings and the amount, if refunded, may not be reported to the National Practitioners Data Bank, depending on your state .
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