Clear teeth alignment products have become increasingly widespread across the dental and orthodontic industries in recent years. Recently, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (AHPRA) criminal offences unit reportedly launched an investigation into four clear orthodontic teeth aligner providers1, including the owner of a clear teeth alignment product called ‘Invisalign’ which could create issues for dentists.
It appears AHPRA’s primary concern reportedly surrounds allegations that the owner of Invisalign and certain dentists may have been engaging in a discount arrangement. It was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month that this arrangement involves a ‘sliding scale’ where discounts are tied to how many Invisalign products are sold to patients.2 According to the same report, allegedly discounts of up to 35% have been offered to dentists and orthodontists who reach certain sales targets, which has allegedly increased profits for dentists and orthodontists.
Conflict of interest and advertising
A significant issue arising from these circumstances is the risk of a conflict of interest between the financial benefits received by dentists through the alleged discounts and the best interests of their patients. Paragraph 8.1 of the Dental Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct requires conflicts of interests to be identified, carefully considered, appropriately disclosed to patients and for accountability. When a dentist’s interests compromise or might reasonably be perceived to compromise a dentist’s primary duty to the patient, dentists must recognise and resolve the conflict in the best interests of the patient.
It should also be noted that dentists need to be mindful of how they advertise and market the provision of services to ensure they are complying with their advertising obligations.
Some key implications from the above are as follows:
- You should ensure compliance with your professional obligations when providing services, especially regarding conflicts of interest, financial benefits and advertising. Effective patient care should always be the primary consideration.
- If you have engaged in a discount arrangement with a clear teeth alignment provider and are concerned about compliance with your professional obligations, contact Experien Insurance Services.