The dental profession holds a special position of trust within society. As a consequence, society affords the profession certain privileges that are not available to members of the public-at-large. In return, the profession makes a commitment to society that its members will adhere to high ethical standards of conduct. These standards are embodied in the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct (ADA Code). The ADA Code is, in effect, a written expression of the obligations arising from the implied contract between the dental profession and society.
Members of the ADA voluntarily agree to abide by the ADA Code as a condition of membership in the Association. They recognize that continued public trust in the dental profession is based on the commitment of individual dentists to high ethical standards of conduct.
The ADA Code has three main components: The Principles of Ethics, the Code of Professional Conduct and the Advisory Opinions.
The ADA has added this new advisory opinion since the above bylaws were printed in the 2012 WDA Sourcebook:
4.E.1. SPLIT FEES IN ADVERTISING AND MARKETING SERVICES.
The prohibition against a dentist’s accepting or tendering rebates or split fees applies to business dealings between dentists and any third party, not just other dentists. Thus, a dentist who pays for advertising or marketing services by sharing a specified portion of the professional fees collected from prospective or actual patients with the vendor providing the advertising or marketing services is engaged in fee splitting. The prohibition against fee splitting is also applicable to the marketing of dental treatments or procedures via “social coupons” if the business arrangement between the dentist and the concern providing the marketing services for that treatment or those procedures allows the issuing company to collect the fee from the prospective patient, retain a defined percentage or portion of the revenue collected as payment for the coupon marketing service provided to the dentist and remit to the dentist the remainder of the amount collected.
Dentists should also be aware that the laws or regulations in their jurisdictions may contain provisions that impact the division of revenue collected from prospective patients between a dentist and a third party to pay for advertising or marketing services.