You remember the FLAP.
A number of Utah oral and maxillofacial surgeons have begun a dentistry turf war with a fellow dentist, Heath Hendrickson, over the extraction of wisdom teeth. The surgeons have sponsored a website (Trooth.com) and a billboard on I-15 in Utah County, Utah.
Here is the billboard found along I-15 in Utah:
Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with David Nicholls, D.D.S., one of the oral and maxillofacial surgeons who comprise the Board of Trooth.Com.
The interview continues:
You know about the Federal Trade Commission, right?
You know they make sure there is a fair marketplace for goods and services across the country – federal?
Do you know that the Federal Trade Commission (has acted) lately on the North Carolina Dental Board with regards to bleaching services in the shopping malls? And, there has been court action where the federal government has actually told North Carolina to cease and desist their enforcement action against the people in the malls, because it is anti-competitive.
So, going back to my Devil’s Advocate thing with the Federal Trade Commission, why wouldn’t somebody at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington say, you know, these dentists are ganging up together in an anti-competitive monopoly to try to force Dr. Hendrickson out of business – because the oral surgeons want to monopolize the extraction of wisdom teeth in Utah?
Well, someone could argue that and they are entitled to argue that. But, I will keep saying what I am saying. It is not about revenue and it is not about business.
It is about ethical behavior as a professional – that is what it is about.
It is about protecting the public and making sure the health care practitioners in our area are representing themselves ethically to the public, so the public can make informed decisions, when they seek care.
And, someone can argue that, but it is not about that. Because, if it were about that then we would not have tried the other avenues and not try to contact him. And, request that he comply with the advertising statute.
Because, we realize, actually what you are saying that if we ask him to do more than anything than comply with the Dental Practice Act that we could fall into that category.
And, we are being very careful not to.
We want to protect the public and want the public to be educated. And, it is not about revenue.
That is the truth of it.
Couldn’t you foresee the argument being made that the reason you posted the website and posted the billboard was to actually harm his business? As an anti-competitive type of action?
Someone could argue that. But, we have been careful looking at the law, what we can or can’t do. And, what we understand the law to say is if you say something that is true, and we are not defaming the person in what we say publicly and that is exactly what we are doing.
We are not being critical of him of how he does things. We are not being critical of his surgical technique or whatever complications he gets. You know, what his business model is.
We are saying that he is not an oral surgeon – which he is not.
It is like someone putting up an advertisement near my business and saying David Nicholls is not a plastic surgeon. Correct, I am not.
I have no response to that, because it is true.
So, we are not doing anything defaming or openly critical. We are not critical writing pieces about patients that we see. We are not complaining about anything that he does – other than how he represents himself, period.
Have you talked to him (Dr. Hendrickson)? Personally?
Well, we wrote him a letter from our group and asked that he change his advertising. And, that if he didn’t change his advertising that we were going to proceed with our campaign.
Could you e-mail me the letter?
I don’t know what would be appropriate. We would have to check with our legal counsel.
This ended the interview and I have not received the letter which the Trooth.Com Board sent to Dr. Hendrickson warning him of the public awareness campaign which would be undertaken, if he did not change his advertising.
Perhaps, Dr. Hendrickson will supply the letter when I interview him.
I will, today, be interviewing Utah Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and Trooth.Com Board member Tate Viehweg of Alpine Surgical Arts.