What am I talking about? This is a copy of an ADA resolution that has already been approved by the ADA Board of Trustees and will be voted on by the ADA House of Delegates in two weeks in Denver (according to the source). There are really two parts to the resolution from what we can tell, but you should read them yourself as you should make up your own mind:
1. The ADA will defer to the courts of every “jurisdiction” to determine who is recognized as a specialist regardless of the ADA’s definition. If a jurisdiction (could be a court or a state) determines that a doctor has a right to be a TMJ specialist or an implantologist, the ADA will now recognize that decision. In other words, the ADA will now defer to the legal system to determine who is a specialist (like they have any other choice…).
2. The ADA will allow specialists to practice outside of their announced specialty.
Those of you who know that I went up against the Arkansas State Board of Dentistry in Federal Court over point 2 know that I’m reasonably familiar with how the prohibitions against specialists’ scope of practice work. I can tell you that in most of the states that require a specialty license the definition of the various specialties and the definition of their scope of practice is usually written “as defined by the ADA” or similarly so point 2 should put an effective end to the restrictions on specialists in those states – but someone will still have to challenge the board to make it so or business will carry on as usual.
As to the first point, the recent courtroom excitement down in Texas over who can and who cannot call themselves specialists (the AAO and the ADA lost their attempt to block non ADA approved “specialties” from saying they are specialists) makes the concession in point 1 above all but mandatory. Basically, the ADA has no real power and now that the courts have said that they don’t care about the ADA approved specialties, the ADA either had to change their position or become irrelevant (well, more irrelevant anyway). I guess the ADA, AAO, etc. could get serious and really fight this in court but that would take a backbone and leave less money for the ADA brass to spend on trips and food and fun and would probably involve real work!
Honestly I think this kind of public evisceration of the ADA, the state dental boards and the other dental member groups is probably a good thing. They are collectively the biggest barrier to access to care and tend to give us dentists a false sense of security while lightening our wallets and doing virtually nothing real.