Meet Your Peer Review Chair
As the newly appointed chair of the Alaska dental society Peer Review committee, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Nielson for over twenty years of service to all of us practicing in this great state. Without volunteers on the local and state level, we could not function as a dental society. I also thank the thirteen other member dentists who have graciously volunteered their time and expertise to make this important benefit to our members a reality.
For those who might not know me, I'll share a little bit of personal background. I'm not sure how many of our members were born in Alaska or who were drawn here for various reasons. I grew up on a farm in Aurora, Oregon. One of my uncles lived on Kodiak Island and would occasionally return to Oregon with coolers full of salmon fillets, moose steaks, and wild stories of marauding, man-killling bears. To a child, it seemed like my uncle was a modern day Davy Crockett struggling to survive. When I was in college at Oregon State, one of my cousins who was serving in the Coast Guard as part of a helicopter rescue team was also stationed in Kodiak. More stories of hunting and fishing galore.
While attending dental school at Oregon Health Sciences University, I was active in ASDA, became a liaison between the university and students, traveled to Washington DC to lobby etc. While a senior, I was approached by the director of a children's dental clinic in Kenai. I wasn't sure I wanted to leave Oregon as I had an offer to work with two very fine dentists in Corvallis. He suggested I speak with one of the dentists there. Lo and behold, it turned out to be George Jedlicka who happened to have grown up in King Salmon. During our conversations, he said I would never regret moving to Alaska and it's true, I never have. In addition, who knew there were so many dentists practicing in Alaska who received their education at OHSU.
I have been active in my local component society serving in all aspects of local leadership. I firmly believe that having a strong vibrant society on a local, state, and national level is the only way we can be recognized by governing entities on a state and a national level. By having a strong membership, our society's opinions are considered relevant. One only has to look at the poor membership numbers of the AMA and how their profession suffers at the whims of politicians and insurance companies. There is a correlation.
I also believe that our dental profession needs to govern ourselves.
The practice of dentistry is a profession that relies on technical expertise. Quality is at the core of our responsibility to the public. There is not only a fiduciary duty to do no harm, but there is also an inherent need to maintain high standards of quality. High standards of quality are not limited to the work we perform in people's mouth's everyday. It also applies to communication with our patients. Think of an argument or a disagreement you had recently with someone in your own life. The root cause of it was likely rooted in miscommunication. It's no different with our patients.
Peer review provides a neutral environment in order to facilitate communication between the provider and the patient. Oftentimes, it allows each party to see the other's point of view. Peer review is a benefit of the Alaska Dental Society in a effort to avoid litigation. Even the most technically competent dentist may encounter the experience of a disgruntled patient. This leads to the question who is going to be more objective when evaluating the case, a judge who has no dental expertise or a panel of your peers? According to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), each year approximately 8500 dentists are named as defendants in malpractice lawsuits. In addition, NPDB estimates the average dental malpractice payout is about $68,000. I personally never want to be in a court room. The Alaska Dental Society is here to help you stay out of one as well.
The peer review committee's goal is to provide an alternative to the legal system to resolve complaints about dental treatment. We strive to give an objective evaluation of treatment while remaining impartial. This process is confidential and any decision is NOT reported to NPDB.
I believe the ability of our dental society to evaluate the appropriateness and quality of care in a confidential and impartial environment is a wonderful benefit to our members.
If you are having challenges communicating with a patient regarding care they received, I encourage you to consider and suggest to your patient a peer review.
I and my fellow committee members are here to help both you and your patient.
I can be reached anytime at 907-272-6122.