The relationship between orthodonists and their patients

Orthodontists and Their Patients

Orthodontics, or the treatment of malocclusion, has been around for centuries. And through it, all the practice has evolved into a set of specific responsibilities. However, one thing that remains constant is that orthodontics patients, while being valued clients, are not legally obligated to agree to these contracts. Is this a fair practice?


First, what is an ‘orthodontic doctor-patient relationship’?

In general terms, it is a two-way relationship that begins when a new patient is referred to an orthodontist for a specific treatment option. The implied and actual contract responsibilities that orthodontists must give their patients are: The orthodontist will be properly licensed/credentialed/ Registered. Both the orthodontist and his/her staff will practice outside the scope of their respective duties allowed.


Second, in regards to the scope of practice

for both doctors and their staff, what exactly is considered ‘irregular’ is determined by each State’s laws and regulations. This is largely determined by how much HIPAA exposure (which includes the privacy rights protected under HIPAA) each state allows for their healthcare professionals. While some States have minimal laws governing their profession there are others where unethical behaviors are severely punished. Additionally, when considering what is considered ‘irregular’, each State’s laws are subject to change. In short, patients want orthodontic care but are not necessarily obligated to agree to go that route with their specialist.


Next, in regards to the scope of practice

for a general practitioner and an orthodontist, the relationship is highly structured. While most times the primary duty of these healthcare professionals is to see patients and make treatment decisions based on what works best, they are also trained to share information between patients and their respective doctors. Therefore, most times shared decision-making occurs through discussions between a patient and their doctors.


Finally, in regards to the telehealth and telemedicine relationship

there is currently very little regulation regarding this industry. However, it is a growing industry with new products, equipment, and services being developed every day. As such, doctors and patients should be aware of potential risks and benefits when using either a telehealth or telemedicine provider. For example, many insurance companies are requiring that doctors who offer telemedicine services must meet certain criteria or face a penalty.


In conclusion, orthodontics and the healthcare industry

in general, has come under increasing scrutiny due to new studies and consumer concerns about their treatments. Orthodontic doctors have expanded their offerings and expanded the scope of what can be done to improve the health outcomes of patients with their teeth. However, more must be done to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while staying informed about their treatment options. Orthodontic professionals must continue to evaluate their relationship with patients and with each other to foster increased communication and focus on all of the patient’s needs.

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