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Washington Law Prohibits DSOs from Interfering with Dentists’ Independent Clinical Judgment

Dental support organizations, or DSOs, contract with dental practices “to provide critical business management and support, including nonclinical operations”, according to the Association of Dental Support Organizations.  DSOs provide administrative support to dental practices.  Some DSOs operate exactly as they should, by providing the support a dentist needs to effectively run his or her practice.  But experience in other states and here in Washington as well has shown that, if left unchecked, some DSOs may cross the line from providing support to dentists to instead dictating how dentists provide care.  When profit motives are put ahead of patient care and safety, and corporate judgment interferes with the independent judgment of the licensed dentist, there is cause for concern.

Washington law authorizes DSOs to provide business support and management services to a dental practice and to receive fees for these services, as agreed to by the dental practice owner or owners.  However, the law also prohibits DSOs from interfering with a dentist’s independent clinical judgment and enumerates specific prohibited actions by DSOs.  For example, DSOs may not limit or impose requirements on the length of time a dentist spends with a patient or performing dental services or limit or impose requirements on the number of patients a dentist must treat or the number of certain types of procedures a dentist must complete in a certain period of time.  DSOs are similarly prohibited from limiting or imposing requirements on the decision of a dentist regarding a course treatment or the manner in which a course of treatment is carried out.  In addition to these examples, there are several other prohibitions against interfering with a dentist’s independent clinical judgment.

For more information, please contact Emily Studebaker at

Studebaker Nault is a Gold Sponsor of PNDC 2022.