Responsibility and Liability in Health Care: Some Differences Between Dentistry and Medicine
Frenkel, David A.
Medicine and Law 2002; 21(3): 605-615
The dentist's lineage goes back to the town barbershop, whereas the physician's ancestor was the tribal witch doctor. Both physicians and dentists are naturally expected to attend to their patients' health, but while the physician may try and attend to the patients' overall well-being, dentists have clients that they must satisfy by attending to their desires and interests. In many respects the aims and targets of medicine and dentistry are different. Whereas in medicine there is a clear distinction between hospital work and private, such a distinction hardly exists in dentistry. In hospitals there is teamwork and responsibility is shared accordingly. In a private dental clinic the responsibility is imposed solely on the dentist also for work done by others who are not his employees. Medicine and dentistry are studied in different schools, organized within different associations and have different rules of ethics. Are they two different professions or only two branches of the same profession? The paper discusses these matters and tries to see if there is any difference between the responsibilities of professionals in oral health care as opposed to professionals in other health or medical care.
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