This paper discusses ethical issues in dentistry. It starts with a case scenario involving a dentist in a group practice who has problems with substance abuse, and it follows with a discussion of the ethical questions that arise of this situation, using the standard definitions of ethics that apply to this scenario.
Drs. Henry Lee and Jim Jones were friends and partners in a general dental practice that started in the late 1980s. Both men enjoyed their practice and their patients, but Dr. Lee was experiencing frustrations and fewer satisfactions. His marriage was crumbling, and the pressures associated with starting divorce proceedings were taking its toll. To alleviate these tensions and to allow him to stay more focused on his patients' care, Dr. Lee started using amphetamines and Valium.
While in dental school, Dr. Lee started using alcohol and drugs, mostly for recreational use. As long as he used it in moderation, Dr. Lee believed that there was no problem and that he remained in control. When finals arrived, Dr. Lee was introduced to amphetamines, which helped him burn the midnight oil while studying for his exams. He could stay up for days, and after the exams he would crash for a day, recuperating. He attributed this to a normal reaction to his staying awake for extended periods of time. After his graduation and upon joining the group practice with his friend Dr. Jones, who was a fellow student at the dental school where Dr. Lee graduated, Dr. Lee continued to use drugs recreationally.
After his marriage started to fall apart, Dr. Lee became surrounded by frustrations. There were too many patients with unrealistic expectations or who were in pain and wanted relief immediately while at the same time complaining about the cost. In addition, the practice experienced growing pains because to an increase in patient load, and Dr. Lee believed that there were too many patients to handle adequately and expedientl...