Medical Ethics/DENTAL


If a dentist concludes (during an apt) that he/she has not been adequately paid on the patient's outstanding balance (roughly $400), is it appropriate to stop the appt. and ask the patient to leave without rendering treatment (in this case 2 fillings)?  This balance was due prior to this appointment.  Cleaning was done after which the dentist said the fillings would not be done and had the patient leave the office.  It was certainly humiliating but was it proper?  Thank you.


I am not licensed in Oregon so I cannot provide you with legal advice; however, I can provide you with some ethical background.  A healthcare provider is not an indentured servant and can turn away a patient as long as: 1) it does not place the patient in an emergency situation; and 2) there are comparable healthcare providers in the reasonable area that can continue the work.

In the situation you described, it is ethical for the dentist to refuse to render fillings if there were other dentists in the area and it did not place the patient in an emergency setting.

Very truly yours,

Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

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Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.


In addition to my law degree, I have a master's degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative medical, legal and business ethics. I am an adjunct professor at a medical school teaching ethics to healthcare professionals and graduate students.

I can answer questions dealing with general ethics principles, including medical ethics, research ethics and bioethics. I am not a moralist and do not interject subjective values such as what is morally right and wrong. Also, I do not give legal advice over the internet.

For more information, you can view my webiste at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM


I have been a civil trial attorney since 1989 with a masters degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative ethics.

State Bar of Arizona
State Bar of Colorado (inactive)
District of Columbia Bar (inactive)
Federal Bar
Licensed in the Arizona District Court
Licensed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
licensed in the United States Supreme Court
American Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
Kennedy Institute of Ethics

A list of my copyrighted publications and presentations is contained at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM

Bachelor of Arts 1985
Juris Doctorate 1989
Master of Arts in Bioethics 2004
Doctorate in Philosophy 2006

Awards and Honors
Phi Beta Kappa
Multiple Who's Who
Outstanding Achievement Award in Bioethics from Midwestern University

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