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    Supreme Court case may impact state scope of practice laws

    Based on a partnership with Urology Times, articles from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) provide updates on legislative processes and issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact the AACU government affairs office at 847-517-1050 or [email protected] for more information.

    American Association of Clinical Urologists logo

    Earlier this spring, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, a case arising out of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners’ (NC Dentistry Board) attempt to enforce the state’s scope of practice laws against a group of non-dentists. At issue in the case is whether the NC Dentistry Board is subject to Federal Trade Commission antitrust enforcement or whether it is immune from FTC authority under the “state action doctrine.”

    While this case arises out of a dispute between North Carolina dentists and non-dentists, its outcome is being watched by state dental and medical boards throughout the country for its impact on their ability to regulate the practice of dentistry and medicine within their own states, particularly with respect to scope of practice.

    Under the North Carolina Dental Practices Act (the Act), a person “shall be deemed to be practicing dentistry” if that person, among other things, “[r]emoves stains, accretions or deposits from the human teeth.” While the NC Dentistry Board does not have authority to discipline non-dentists or order them to stop violating the Act, it can bring an action in court to enjoin a group of non-dentists from practicing dentistry or refer the matter to a District Attorney. Here, the NC Dentistry Board learned that non-dentists were offering teeth-whitening services at mall kiosks and other places, and as a result issued a number of cease and desist letters requesting that the non-dentists stop all activities that constitute the practice of dentistry. Though these letters did not have the force of law behind them, in most cases, they had their intended effect.

    Continue to the next page for more.

    Daniel R. Shaffer, JD
    Mr. Shaffer is associate director of the American Association of Clinical Urologists.

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