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Washington State Dental Association

Doctor-Patient Mediation

The professional conduct of Association members is governed by the American Dental Association Principles of Ethics, the dentistry Code of Ethics, and applicable federal or state criminal statutes. Maintaining ethics and high standards of care within the dental profession has always been an issue of interest for the WSDA. 

WSDA member dentists are expected to be sensitive to any uncertainty or misgivings exhibited by a patient during treatment and to be willing to discuss explicit complaints. However, some informal methods of resolving misunderstandings are not always sufficient. A more formal method of response has been developed to address these situations: doctor-patient mediation.

In its simplest terms, doctor-patient mediation is a mechanism by which organized dentistry demonstrates the appropriateness and quality of the care it renders. It provides an expert and credible system for resolving disagreements that cannot be resolved at an earlier, more informal stage.

Review panels are composed of dentists with appropriate credentials who conduct hearings, review evidence, and make objective decisions based on the findings. Panel members are volunteers who practice and live in your local community.

Doctor-patient mediation is not a court of law, has no disciplinary powers, and is not a punitive process. The purpose is to help educate, mediate, clarify, and, where necessary, exercise remedial procedures. The review process is voluntary; however all parties must comply with the findings of an arbitrated settlement. Doctor-patient mediation review does not consider cases that are in litigation.

Requests for doctor-patient mediation involving WSDA members are first handled by the component society in which the care in question was delivered. Complaints involving other dentists can be directed to the Washington State Department of Health. For additional information, contact Emily Lovell at or (206) 973-5241.