Natural Treatments Offer Best Hope For Cats With Feline AIDS

A new book offers hope for cats diagnosed with Feline AIDS, a disease once thought to be untreatable. Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner’s Guide by Thomas Hapka explains the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and outlines effective treatment strategies. Often confused with HIV or the human AIDS virus, Feline AIDS is NOT transferable to humans.

Each year, thousands of cats are diagnosed with Feline AIDS, also known as the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. Well-meaning veterinarians often tell pet owners this disease is untreatable, but hope and help are now available.

Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner’s Guide by Thomas Hapka outlines simple, affordable treatment plans, which often require little more than a trip to your local health food store. The book is meant to address an important need.

“When my own cat was diagnosed, I was shocked to learn there were no books or useful articles available on this subject,” Hapka said. “By publishing this book, I hope to provide pet owners the information they need to assure prompt, effective treatment for their FIV+ cats.”

According to Lita Radford, professional homeopath and owner-operator of, “…Thomas Hapka has written this book in such a way that in one hour or less you will have enough information to get your cat on the road to recovery. Briefly, but ever so thoroughly, you will have sound knowledge of this disease, and better still, be equipped with the tools you need to do something about it.”

FIV is a virus that attacks the infected cat’s immune system, leaving the animal vulnerable to a broad range of infections. Although the disease behaves similarly to HIV, it cannot be transmitted to humans.

“Many people panic when they hear the word AIDS,” Hapka said. “I recently received a heartbreaking email from a woman in Australia who euthanized her beloved family cat, mistakenly believing the animal could give AIDS to her grandchildren. Cases like this are especially tragic because Feline AIDS is exclusively a feline disease. It is NOT possible for humans to catch AIDS from a cat.”

Another misconception is that a diagnosis of FIV is an automatic death sentence. Hapka, however, contends that cats receiving natural therapies and proper medical care can live for extended periods with few or no symptoms.

“By using the treatment strategies in this book, pet owners can strengthen their cats’ immune systems, helping to protect these animals from common infections that can otherwise prove life threatening for FIV+ cats,” says Hapka.

Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner’s Guide explains how to:

• recognize the early symptoms of FIV
• choose appropriate conventional treatments
• use natural treatment strategies
• find useful resources, including holistic practitioners and supplement companies

Thomas Hapka is a freelance writer and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He learned of FIV in 1995 when his cat, Jac, was diagnosed. Since then, he has consulted with hundreds of pet owners. His clients have spanned nine countries and included two American zoos. Hapka has been featured in the magazine Australian National Cat, and his web site has received more than 80,000 visitors.

Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner’s Guide, published by Kitter House Press, is now available through and

From: I-Newswire

ADEA & AADR Launch Innovative Faculty Recruitment Program

American Dental Education Association, American Association of Dental Research Launch Innovative Faculty Recruitment Program

With the dental school faculty shortage expected to grow in the future, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Association of Dental Research (AADR) have joined forces to launch an innovative faculty recruitment program that will encourage and prepare students to enter academic dentistry.

Designed to reach students attending all U.S. and Canadian dental schools, the new Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program is being established with $100,000 in support from the American Dental Association Foundation (ADAF), the charitable arm of the American Dental Association.

“Ensuring the future faculty workforce is critical to the future of dentistry and to ensuring the oral health of the public,” said Dr. Eric J. Hovland, ADEA President and Dean, School of Dentistry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. “We are grateful to the ADAF for making it possible for ADEA and the AADR to launch this national effort to interest more of our students in becoming faculty members. This is an important step forward in easing the faculty shortage problem.”

“This program can really make a difference,” said Dr. Christopher S. Arena, ADEA Vice President for Students and a postgraduate student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Dental School. “Students with a passing interest in exploring academic careers often don’t know where they can learn more. Others may have a serious interest but need guidance in preparing themselves to become faculty members. This program will rapidly become a valued resource for students.”

The Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program will consist of two complementary efforts. In one, informational seminars will be presented to the more than 800 dental students attending the ADEA and AADR Annual Sessions. Designed to attract and identify students interested in academic careers, these four or five seminars will focus on such topics as the roles of full-time, part-time, clinical, and research faculty; loan repayment programs; and the importance of dental education to the continued health of organized dentistry.

The other part of the program will provide a year-long learning and networking experience to ten students during their third-year equivalency. Under the guidance of faculty mentors, these students will teach in a pre-clinical course, work in a research lab, or provide lectures and will conduct structured interviews with faculty and administrators at their home institutions. Fellows will work together on group activities via a web-based network through which they will discuss clinical issues, online and reading assignments, problem-based learning exercises, and case presentations. During the year, fellows will receive a $2,000 stipend. At the end of the year, the fellows will share what they’ve learned in presentations at the ADEA and AADR Annual Sessions. A fellows alumni association will provide ongoing mentorship and guidance for fellows as they work toward faculty positions.
ADEA and AADR will initiate the Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program at their 2006 Annual Sessions in Orlando, Florida. Applications for the first class of fellows will be due June 30, 2006. A call for applications, with detailed requirements, will be issued in spring 2006.

The American Dental Education Association is the leading national organization for dental education. Its members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools, advanced dental education programs, allied dental education programs, corporations, faculty, and students.

ADEA’s activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings, and communications, as well as the dental school admissions services AADSAS and PASS and the Journal of Dental Education.

From: AScribe Newswire

73 Percent of Americans Lack Awareness about Vision Problem

Survey: 73 Percent of Americans Lack Awareness about Vision Problem Affecting Millions; Optometrists Concerned about Effects of Untreated Vision Impairment

A new survey shows that many Americans have little, if any, knowledge of low vision, a term that describes vision loss that cannot be restored with conventional eye glasses, contact lenses, drug therapy or eye surgery and affects 16.5 million people.

Based on the survey commissioned by the American Optometric Association (AOA) of U.S. adults, 73 percent of Americans do not know what low vision is. Only 21 percent of African-American respondents, a high-risk group for acquiring low vision, know what low vision is.

The findings will be presented at the American Optometric Association’s annual Optometry’s Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

“This is of serious concern for optometrists who work every day to preserve the overall eye health and vision potential of the American public,” said R. Tracy Williams, O.D., chair-elect of the AOA Low Vision Rehabilitation Section. “Being affected by low vision can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life and opportunities to achieve educational, employment and independent living goals with dignity. Low vision interferes with ordinary activities such as writing, watching television, driving and reading.”

When traditional treatments such as corrective eyewear, medicine or surgery cannot cure eye disorders, low vision rehabilitation is a viable treatment that can favorably maximize sight and improve quality of life.

“Losing the ability to drive safely or see a computer screen due to low vision can leave many feeling like they are losing their independence,” says Dr. Williams. “In addition, not being able to cure vision loss can make patients lose hope. But the good news is there is hope for treating the condition supported by science in the form of low vision rehabilitation.”

Low Vision Rehabilitation is Treatment for Visual Impairment According to the AOA, the first line of defense is having an annual, comprehensive eye examination. If vision loss is determined, the second step is to see a doctor of optometry who specializes in the examination, treatment and management of patients with low vision and other visual impairments. The low vision rehabilitation doctor develops the individual rehabilitation plan, provides supervision and offers referrals for teaching, counseling, adaptive technology, safe travel and other activities associated with daily living.

Low vision has a variety of causes, including eye injury, eye disease and heredity, and can affect all age groups. Common symptoms of low vision include loss of central vision, loss of peripheral (side) vision, blurred vision, generalized haze (sensation of film/glare), extreme light sensitivity and night blindness.
“Any person who cannot meet their functional daily needs with conventional methods of eye correction should be considered for low vision rehabilitation, and early intervention is the key,” says Dr. Williams. “There are exciting prescriptive devices and adaptive technology that can help children become competitive in the classroom, adults gain or retain employment, and seniors enjoy their golden years.”

According to the National Eye Health Education Program, the vast majority of people age 65 and older with low vision are unaware of services and devices that could help them improve the quality of their lives. They say the need for information will increase as the number of Americans who are at greatest risk, those ages 65 and older, doubles over the next 30 years.

In addition to the low vision results, the survey commissioned by the AOA also revealed the following:

  • Adults surveyed believe that on average, reading vision begins to deteriorate at age 39. In reality, the AOA reports that reading vision typically starts deteriorating in the mid-forties and early-fifties. Presbyopia is the name for the common eye condition that causes middle-aged people to be reliant upon reading glasses. On average, presbyopia develops by the time a person is 50.

The survey also revealed regional, age and social disparities in eye health awareness levels. For example:

  • Higher income households (those with incomes of $75K or more), which generally tend to be more educated, answered more questions incorrectly than some of the lowest income households surveyed.
  • Adults in the North Central region were the least familiar with the appropriate time when a person should receive their first eye exam than those living elsewhere. More than 81 percent of respondents in the North Central region answered this question incorrectly.

The vast majority of 35- to 44-year-olds responded incorrectly as to what low vision is.

  • Only 19 percent of 35-44 year-olds (an age group quickly approaching vision deterioration) are aware of the age at which reading vision begins to deteriorate.

Harris Interactive conducted the telephone survey for the American Optometric Association between May 12 and 15, 2005, among a nationwide cross selection of 1,018 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race and region were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Sampling error for the sub-samples of men (505), women (513), adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more (216), and adults who live in the North Central region (233) and Northeast region (202) or the U.S. is higher and varies.

From: U.S. Newswire

Laser Eye Surgery and Baseball

Laser Eye Surgery Does Not Improve Major League Baseball Performance

University Researchers Find No Improvement in Offensive Performance

There has been great public interest in laser refractive eye surgery (e.g. LASIK) with many prominent sports figures advocating its benefits. Two university researchers studied the offensive performance of a dozen Major League hitters who had undergone these procedures.

The study concluded that there was no offensive benefit to undergoing the refractive surgical procedure in these players. In addition, due to the well-established risks of these elective surgical procedures, the authors conclude that players may be best served by waiting until the end of their baseball career before performing the procedure. Players at all levels may wish to reconsider their plans to undergo a refractive surgical procedure based on these findings.

Drs. Kirschen and Laby have evaluated several thousand players at the Major League and minor league levels. They have applied a rigorous scientific approach to their testing, evaluation and intervention and have gained the respect of the baseball community at large, as evidenced by frequent lectures during the Major League Baseball winter meetings. Drs. Laby and Kirschen were the first to critically describe the elite visual function of professional baseball players and have developed a “visual profile” of the typical Major League player.

Daniel M. Laby, MD, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard University, and David G. Kirschen, OD, PhD, Professor of Optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry and director of the binocular vision section of the Jules Stein Eye Institute/UCLA Medical Center, have each over 14 years’ experience working with Major League Baseball teams and players in both the American and National Leagues.

From: PR Newswire

Avian Influenza Strains Continue Growing

Pandemic Potential at High Risk

Beginning in late July 2005, official reports to the OIE (World Organisation of Animal Health) from government authorities indicate that the H5N1 virus has expanded its geographical range. Both Russia and Kazakhstan reported outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry in late July, and confirmed H5N1 as the causative agent in early August. Deaths in migratory birds, infected with the virus, have also been reported. Outbreaks in both countries have been attributed to contact between domestic birds and wild waterfowl via shared water sources.

These are the first outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza recorded in the two countries. Both countries were previously considered free of the virus.

Since the initial reports, the Russian H5N1 outbreak in poultry, which has remained confined to Siberia, has spread progressively westward to affect 6 administrative regions. In Kazakhstan, several villages bordering the initial outbreak site in Siberia are now known to have experienced disease in poultry. To date, outbreaks in the two countries have involved some large farms as well as small backyard flocks, with close to 120,000 birds dead or destroyed in Russia and more than 9,000 affected in Kazakhstan.

In early August, Mongolia issued an emergency report following the death of 89 migratory birds at two lakes in the northern part of the country. Avian influenza virus type A has been identified as the cause, but the virus strain has not yet been determined. Samples have been shared with World Health Organization (WHO) reference laboratories and are currently being investigated. Also in early August, an outbreak of H5N1 in poultry was detected in Tibet, China.

In all of these recent outbreaks, authorities have announced control measures in line with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and OIE recommendations for highly pathogenic avian influenza. To date, no human cases have been detected, vigilance is high, and local authorities are investigating rumors.

The outbreaks in Russia and Kazakhstan provide evidence that H5N1 viruses have spread beyond their initial focus in south-east Asian countries, where outbreaks are now known to have begun in mid-2003. Despite aggressive control efforts, FAO has warned that the H5N1 virus continues to be detected in many parts of Viet Nam and Indonesia and in some parts of Cambodia, China, Thailand, and possibly also Laos.

The south-east Asian outbreaks, which have resulted in the death or destruction of more than 150 million birds, have had severe consequences for agriculture and most especially for the many rural farmers who depend on small backyard flocks for income and food. Human cases, most of which have been linked to direct contact with diseased or dead poultry in rural areas, have been confirmed in four countries: Viet Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Only a few instances of limited human-to-human transmission have been recorded. Poultry outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza in Japan, Malaysia, and the Republic of Korea were successfully controlled.

WHO fully agrees with FAO and OIE that control of avian influenza infection in wild bird populations is not feasible and should not be attempted. Wild waterfowl have been known for some time to be the natural reservoir of all influenza A viruses. Migratory birds can carry these viruses, in their low pathogenic form, over long distances, but do not usually develop signs of illness and only rarely die of the disease. The instances in which highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have been detected in migratory birds are likewise rare, and the role of these birds in the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza remains poorly understood.

Very large die-offs of migratory birds from avian influenza, such as the one detected at the end of April at Qinghai Lake in central China, in which more than 6,000 birds died, are considered unusual. Research published in July indicates that H5N1 viruses in that outbreak are similar to viruses that have been circulating in south-east Asia for the last two years.

Analyses of viruses from the Russian outbreak, recently published on the OIE website, show apparent similarity to viruses isolated from migratory birds during the Qinghai Lake outbreak. Specimens from the Mongolian outbreak in migratory birds should also prove useful in shedding light on these recent developments. Monitoring the spread and evolution of avian H5N1 viruses in birds and rapidly comparing these results with previously characterized H5N1 viruses is an essential activity for assessing the risk of pandemic influenza.

Implications for human health

The poultry outbreaks in Russia and Kazakhstan are caused by a virus that has repeatedly demonstrated its ability, in outbreaks in Hong Kong in 1997, in Hong Kong in 2003, and in south-east Asia since early 2004, to cross the species barrier to infect humans, causing severe disease with high fatality. A similar risk of human cases exists in areas newly affected with H5N1 disease in poultry.

Experience in south-east Asia indicates that human cases of infection are rare, and that the virus does not transmit easily from poultry to humans. To date, the majority of human cases have occurred in rural areas. Most, but not all, human cases have been linked to direct exposure to dead or diseased poultry, notably during slaughtering, defeathering, and food preparation. No cases have been confirmed in poultry workers or cullers. No cases have been linked to the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs.

Factors relating to poultry densities and farming systems seen in different countries may also influence the risk that human cases will occur. During a 2003 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, caused by the H7N7 strain, in the Netherlands, more than 80 cases of conjunctivitis were detected in poultry workers, cullers, and their close contacts, and one veterinarian died. That event, which was contained following the destruction of around 30 million poultry, underscores the need for newly affected countries to follow FAO/OIE/WHO recommended precautions when undertaking control measures in affected farms.

Pandemic risk assessment:

The possible spread of H5N1 avian influenza to poultry in additional countries cannot be ruled out. WHO recommends heightened surveillance for outbreaks in poultry and die-offs in migratory birds, and rapid introduction of containment measures, as recommended by FAO and OIE. Heightened vigilance for cases of respiratory disease in persons with a history of exposure to infected poultry is also recommended in countries with known poultry outbreaks. The provision of clinical specimens and viruses, from humans and animals, to WHO and OIE/FAO reference laboratories allows studies that contribute to the assessment of pandemic risk and helps ensure that work towards vaccine development stays on course.

The expanding geographical presence of the virus is of concern as it creates further opportunities for human exposure. Each additional human case increases opportunities for the virus to improve its transmissibility, through either adaptive mutation or reassortment. The emergence of an H5N1 strain that is readily transmitted among humans would mark the start of a pandemic.

From: I-Newswire

Displaced Dentists, Hurricane Katrina and Reciprocity

By Barry Levy, DDS

When the dental profession retains provincial ideas about how the profession is to be run and fails to address problems that exist, the idea of reciprocity between states in America becomes an issue that may slowly gain traction, but hasn’t been addressed in a manner that deals with disasters that can affect those that practice.

While members ask for reciprocity, the profession has failed to address several quality of care issues, failed to have a codified system of regulations that isn’t dependent on zip code, size of practice, number of employees or type of practice, and have allowed unlicensed dentists to practice for expediency’s sake.

It is no wonder that we can’t accomplish certain changes when we have ceded control of a profession to others. And those that make the rules may not be especially interested in what is best for the profession and for the patients in a unified way.

So as Hurricane Katrina has left, and we are left to rebuild, one has to focus on the problems that occur when our highly fragmented profession has placed so many obstacles in the way of dentists wishing to relocate. Whether it is a personal choice, or due to circumstances beyond their control. Reciprocity is the first issue that comes to my mind because of the devastation that has occurred as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And while this article was written during the most dire news reports, the issues become worth examining no matter how the events of the tragedy play out.

State Standards

Reciprocity is a key issue that has its roots in questions about why different states have different standards of care and try to foster the perception that one state is better than another is.

Why is it that we don’t have one standard for the profession, but instead have various standards?

Why do regulations vary from zip code to zip code, and depend on size of practices, or number of employees, or other basically irrelevant concepts that have nothing to do with the care given to patients?

Are we that caught up with people trying to protect their turf, and trying to do so in ways that make no sense in the long run?

In some regards our profession should take a page from McDonalds. It doesn’t matter where you go. If you see that name, you know that the quality will be the same. It doesn’t vary because of location, size of restaurant, or number of people served.

Quality of Care

The quality of care is a focal point in this discussion. It is the issue that is cited to make reciprocity more difficult, but if one examines the issues of quality of care, one will see that this may be a straw issue.

There are cases of states allowing unlicensed dentists to practice in certain situations on patients. So much for the need of a license or even the appearance of checking for quality of care. There is the issue of states allowing licensed dentists, or dental groups to stay in business when the quality of care is substandard.

So much for the quality of care issue.

But we, as a profession, have sanctioned this substandard care of patients. We have failed to demand quality for all patients. We have been complacent in the problems we want changed by giving a wink and a nod to those offices that harm patients. So while allowing patients to be harmed, and being happy to have the remakes of that poor care, we have harmed the image of our profession.

Will this change? Probably not until we as a profession become proactive to weed out those practices that constantly harm patients.

Allowing substandard care is not how a profession is supposed to maintain their professional standing. Indeed allowing clinically non-acceptable treatment while professing to be concerned about the patient’s safety and quality of treatment leads a non-professional to only see a turf war, not a profession striving for excellence.

It is not acceptable to cast aspersions about the quality of care by others while ignoring the glaring problems in your own backyard.

If we start with the problem of reciprocity, one must ask why a qualified dentist in one state is not accepted by another state. If the issue is quality of care, why do we have individual states setting dental standards rather than the ADA?

This immediately sets the licensing of a dentist as a turf battle where one state can comment that their dentists are better, and keep out others to eliminate some of the potential competition.

While on the issue of quality of care, one must start to question the legitimacy of any dental board examination that doesn’t test what the dentist does and how he treats his patients, especially for a specialist. A general practice board exam, given to a specialist, is not a test of competency, but an attempt to keep a person out. This should have outraged a profession, but it didn’t seem to do so.

The argument has been that the state wants to assure that competent dentists treat patients. So if the issue is quality treatment and the “assumed” protection of the patients, one then has to ask why dental groups that treat in a substandard manner are allowed to keep practicing, even after years of state review indicating that treatment is clinically not acceptable.


What should be the profession’s response to state licensing agencies that know of the problem and continue to license those offices? How long can a profession know of the problems and not be proactive to solve those problems?

Would it make you upset that large groups, treating in a substandard manner are allowed to stay in business because the state wants some place for the patients to be seen?

How long should a group that is treating patients in a non-clinically acceptable manner be allowed to work with the problem?

In one case that I am aware of, the state has been working with the poor quality of treatment given to patients for over 13 years, with the harm continuing. Where is the professional outrage about the abuse of patients? Do you start to understand that allowing the poor quality of care is starting to harm the profession? It sets up a two-tier level of care that must be unacceptable.

When the profession doesn’t step up and do what is proper, others will take the lead, and the result may be that reciprocity doesn’t happen, while substandard quality of care may be the norm. It’s time to change this, especially as we turn more and more into a global community while more and more patients are even looking to seek treatment outside the US.

Reciprocity for Displaced Dentists

As our colleagues are displaced, and may have to find work outside their home state, this has brought this issue into the forefront of issues that need consideration.

Why isn’t a valid dental degree sufficient to practice in any state?

With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the potential displacement of so many colleagues this issue has become critically important, and immediately so. Many of our colleagues may be forced to relocate to different states in order to survive, but will they be able to practice their profession, and do so immediately. Will they be given immediate reciprocity?

Because reciprocity wasn’t the norm in the past we have now placed ourselves in a serious Catch-22 problem. If reciprocity is given to any displaced dentist by another state we must ask why there is a waiver to do so. If we accept reciprocity for financial betterment of the dentist that needs it, that exception would show that the whole problem was a straw issue.

If an exception is given in this case, then the reasoning for not having reciprocity will have been shown to be a bogus one, because then the profession will be dealing with economic need of some colleagues and the issue of public safety will not have been a consideration.

We are caught in a bind. Doing what is right for our colleague brings the issue to a head. Either this is acceptable and hasn’t been allowed or we have lost sight of our patients’ well being to better ourselves. The confusion over this issue will leave our patients to question what is happening. Are we looking out for their best interests or for our own? When patients perceive that we aren’t looking out for them, that is when the profession starts to have problems.

So now we come to Hurricane Katrina and what we as a profession are going to do to help our colleagues get back on their feet, and to earn a living, while practicing their profession. Should we give reciprocity to those dentists whose practices have been destroyed without licensing them? If we do, then we must question why they are qualified because of a disaster, and if feelings are the proper reason to allow this.

If we allow them to practice because we feel their pain, then the whole issue of licensing becomes moot, because a precedent has been set for reciprocity. If we allow them to practice without a license, is that state going to stand behind what they did, by any rationalization?

If the state is going to license them by saying that they are qualified without a license from that state, or that particular board, because they state they are qualified, then we get back to square one of why the dental license isn’t accepted without the paperwork and costs that are now in place.

Protecting the Profession

I have written in past articles that when a profession doesn’t have set standards and doesn’t protect itself and those patients that they treat, then others will come into the vacuum that is created. Those people that start to make the rules and regulations, may not be dentists, and may not have the profession’s best interests, or even the patient’s best interests at heart. When we cede that control to others, we stop becoming a profession and become a trade association. Something that I think that we have studied too long and too hard to strive for, to have taken away by others.

We are being forced to realize that as a profession, we have abdicated our professional responsibility. We have allowed others to dictate what we should be doing, most notably lawyers. Just check to see the language of the dental practice act, and who wrote those laws. Try making sense of HIPPA regulations, or OSHA standards, or even better the absurdity of some of the rules set by CDC.

I especially like the ruling that extracted teeth must be treated as hazardous waste materials and disposed of properly, unless, get ready for this, you give the tooth to the patient. Then the tooth is no longer a hazardous waste material. Can you imagine this scenario in an operating room?

In the wake of the problems with dentistry that have been allowed to flourish, from poor quality to state sanctioned mills that harm patients, to absurd rules and regulations, we have brought a lot of problems to our profession that will continue to emerge as we become more of a global community. We have petty turf squabbles over how many dentists we should license and who we should license. This completely ignores the issue that our profession should not be engaging in trade restrictions, or looking to protect our turf to the detriment of others.

Ever wonder why dental boards are political appointments rather than our profession selecting the best people to serve this capacity? Do you think it might be time to question this practice, and ask if those on dental boards should be political cronies, and fat cat contributors, or the best people possible that can serve the public and our profession?

National and International Dentistry

A story in USA Today mentioned how patients are seeking treatment outside the country because of costs. And the response from the dental establishment was that you get what you pay for, and that the quality of care in the United States is the best in the world.

But aren’t there different fees in different areas of local communities and different states? Can a legitimate argument be made that reciprocity has been a tool to dictate different standards of care in different areas? So shouldn’t a patient be a good consumer and shop for the best price? And aren’t fees different in different areas?

While we say that the quality of care in the United States is the best, aren’t we aware of the fact that there are problems with certain dental “mills” that have been allowed to practice with no particular outrage from the profession about the quality of care that those patients receive in those offices?

The typical dental response is that if you go to a foreign dentist you may have no recourse should a problem arise. That is not much different from the cases not taken by lawyers because the amount of the damages isn’t worth the legal time. It is truly fortunate for the profession that so many dental malpractice cases normally fall out of the realm of cost return that lawyers want.

Or how about the recent case where the patient was harmed, but the lawyer dropped the case just before trial because they found that the dentist had no assets, or insurance?


We should be asking for uniform standards in our global community and uniform standards that quickly and efficiently resolve the problems with poor quality. It is wrong to cast stones about the quality of care in foreign countries, when accepting clinically unacceptable treatment here. It is wrong to claim that there would be no recourse, when that is often the case here.

We should be taking the lead, to show patients that, while mistakes happen, they will be
corrected, and quickly. That would be a profession taking the lead.
I have seen peer review take so long that the statute of limitations can expire while waiting for a ruling. It is also wrong to have the policy for peer review forcing the patient to forego any possible legal solution. That becomes similar to informed consents that force arbitration. It is not a positive way to approach the problems that we have allowed to happen.

Have you ever worked at a dental mill, knowing that you were not doing the best quality that you could, and accepting it?

I remember when 60 Minutes did a program on this issue. The dentist was very smugly telling how bad those clinics were, and that he worked there in order to pick up speed and experience, but he would never work like that again. But nowhere did he take the initiative to inform patients of the problems, or to report the problem to the proper regulatory agencies. So he, and all that know of the problem with the quality of care, are doing their best to create the climate where the profession is harmed.

Ever think that allowing this poor quality may be the reason that we aren’t as strong as we should be? Ever have second thoughts about how our profession sanctions offices that harm patients, while we smugly practice in our private offices, willing to do the remake on these patients, but not willing to correct the problem? Ever wonder if this attitude is what has caused consumer groups to start to question what happens in our offices, and lobby for changes to be made?

In California there was a guest worker program being established which would allow non-licensed dentists to come into California to treat the large Mexican population. The allegation was that this population wasn’t getting proper treatment. Seemed that in the discussion to allow this, the state was making the argument that California-licensed dentists were not being sensitive enough to the dental needs of those that weren’t American citizens.

So a breach in the licensing requirement was being made, while the profession remained strangely silent. This type of agreement, which allows unlicensed dentists to treat patients, but won’t give a licensed dentist reciprocity, is a dual system that should have the profession up in arms. As should the concept that California dentists don’t have the sensibilities to treat the Hispanic population.

In Arizona, I recall that dentists that didn’t want to be in private practice could opt out of having to get an Arizona license if they were to only practice in state-run dental clinics, and accept a much lower form of compensation.

While not as egregious as the California situation, consider what the state is saying: “You don’t need a state license if you are going to treat the poor, but if you are going to treat paying patients you must be licensed.”

Either the dentist is qualified or he isn’t, but to make the determination based on the income of the patient, has already set up the two-tier level of treatment that should be abhorrent to all professionals.

Australia allows assistants to place amalgams, but only on children. Are the assistants qualified or are they not? Or is there a difference in the teeth of children when compared with adults? Different standards, based on obscure reasoning and based on monetary concerns, should be a red flag.

Two Tier Treatment

Does this mean that the two-tier level of treatment is being created by de facto arrangements that the profession is not a party to and are these two-tier levels of care becoming the norm?

This reminds me of the situation that should you have HMO type plans to fill in your empty time, you may have created a two-tier level of treatment in your office. That could create a serious nightmare, if and when it gets shown that you don’t treat all with the same skill, care, and in the same timely manner.

We may already be going into an interesting direction where licensing will be done by post dental internships. New York has a new requirement that an internship is needed after dental school, replacing the licensing examination.

Is the standard of care going to be the internship after dental school, to replace dental boards, and will that be done in all states?

This program raises the specter of where all these programs will be held, and will all dentists be able to get into a program. If you add the number of dentists to a location, have you artificially created, by government mandate, an adverse economic condition for all those that are already practicing? And what do you do if there is no internship program in a state, or there is not access to the program? Will we now have a two-tier level for licensing and for those with an internship and those taking boards? Will foreign dentists that want to practice here also have to apply for the intern program?

The Bigger Issue

In any case, the bigger issue should be what do we do about reciprocity, and how do we handle it in a timely manner so that we don’t have to face these decisions in time of a crisis. What are we going to do to bring the rest of the global dental community into conformity with standards that are being established? Isn’t it time to get rid of the notion that our profession is a profession that has different standards based on where we choose to practice?

We are in interesting times, and again, because we as a profession have stuck our collective heads in the sand, events are dictating to us, what should have been the profession taking care of their patients and their profession.

While centering my discussion around the events caused by Hurricane Katrina and offering prayers and support for all those affected, we should also be sending our prayers to our colleagues in Mumbai, India. In July that community suffered severe flooding that killed more than a thousand people. They also are looking at an estimated $690 Million to repair the structural damages done by that flooding.

(Contributing writer Dr. Barry Levy is a dental consultant, lecturer and is on the California Dental Board’s panel of expert witnesses for dental board investigations)

Veterinary Foundation Offers Grants To Cover Costs

Veterinary Foundation Offers Grants To Cover Costs Of Care After Hurricanes

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) is urging veterinarians to apply for grants of up to $2,000 to cover costs incurred by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Eligible applicants are licensed veterinarians, although requests from licensed veterinary technicians and others providing medical care for animals will be considered. Applicants need not come from storm-ravaged areas, but may include those from otherwise unaffected areas who are incurring out-of-pocket expenses from providing veterinary medical treatment, care and supplies to animal victims of the storms.

In addition, the AVMF will consider partial funding for storm-damaged structures and equipment used to provide veterinary care of animals.

“Veterinarians across the country have volunteered their time, expertise and resources to treat animals injured and displaced by these terrible storms,” said Dr. Tracy Rhodes, DVM, chairperson of the AVMF. “These grants will help to reimburse veterinarians for the costs associated with this care.”

Funding for the awards is provided through the AVMF Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. Established shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast, the fund was developed with the goal of raising $1 million for disaster relief efforts in the areas ravaged by the storms. The American Veterinary Medical Association Executive Board allocated $500,000 in matching funds to help meet this goal.

A grant application form is available online at Forms are to be submitted to the applicant’s state veterinary medical association, which may not be the location where the expenses were incurred. State associations will then submit the forms to the AVMF for review and consideration.

The AVMF advances the care and value of animals in society by raising and distributing funds in support of animal disaster relief and animal health studies. Established by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1963, the AVMF is based in northwest suburban Chicago. For more information about the AVMF, visit or call (847) 925-8070, ext. 6689.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. More than 72,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine including its relationship to public health and agriculture.

From: American Veterinary Medical Foundation website

Direct Reimbursement Plans: A trend waiting to happen

by Craig Beauchamp

Direct Reimbursement Plans (DRP) may be the upcoming trend to provide for one’s dental care needs, while at the same time letting many dentists regain control of their profession and get the financial compensation they deserve for their work.

The North Carolina Dental Society’s website states, “…dental care costs are predictable and non-catastrophic.”

Catastrophes fall under medical insurance and can not be planned for. Therefore, requiring the use of insurance companies to level the playing field by spreading the need for large medical payments over a larger population that pays, simply, for a maybe.

The fact is dental insurance funnels money out of your community and country, while at the same time taking control of the art of dentistry away from the dentist. It forces many dentists to work for less than they’re worth, adding to extra work load and stress while decreasing profit margins. This doesn’t even address the suppressed level of preventative care the average patient and his family receives, or needs, from his dentist to keep healthy teeth and gums.

With DRP, the money that a company would spend on insurance is put into an account that is set aside, accumulating interest, to be used as the employee sees fit. What is not used stays in the account collecting interest for the administration costs of the DR plan instead of for the insurance company. The patient and dentist have control of when and how it’s used. Of course the specifics of each plan differ depending on the company, but when informed of the savings and the increased oral health care and morale of employees, it only makes sense for more companies to start their own direct reimbursement plans.

The problem arises in the marketing. Insurance companies place a huge amount of their overhead into marketing. DR plans do not have that overhead, resulting in a lack of information and promotion on the subject. Many dentists say they feel that DR plans can’t succeed because of this.

Some DR plans require the patient to pay out of his own pocket and get reimbursed when they show their receipt. Some companies have given their employees with DR plans a debit card that has a certain amount allotted to it that will immediately be paid like any other debit card.

For the dentist this is fee for service, for the patient it is managed oral health, and for the company providing it there are multiple benefits. These range from increased production from healthier and happier staff to the knowledge that they are keeping money in their community. Some of that money will then come back to the doctors through the services they provide and even direct savings on the fees they have to pay to provide a good dental care program to their employees.
According to Dr. Keith Lever of Utah, “There is … higher case acceptance with direct reimbursement.”

Proper dental care and upkeep can allow a person to plan, with the knowledge and expertise of his dentist, for a healthy oral state. Even some level of cosmetics can be handled, such as braces.

Since there are no exclusions in a direct reimbursement plan, dentists and their clients can effectively plan a treatment plan that is approved by the expert; the dentist.

When asked why DR plans haven’t taken off better some dentists pointed out that it is in direct competition with insurance companies which spend millions a year in advertising. DR plans save money partly because there isn’t that marketing overhead. Yet because of it, companies don’t hear much about it.

This means that you have to go out there and create them!

Go get large companies, or small ones, the literature and build relationships with those companies that are in your community. Find out how many people they employ and do a mock up plan for them!

Dr. Andrew Lazaris of Plano, Texas said, “DR plans are great, but we need more employers to take part.”

The North Carolina Dental Society, the Utah Dental Association, the Illinois State Dental Society, and the ADA all have information available. The ADA can be contacted at 800-232-1890 or by e-mail at

There is also a list of third party administrators (TPA) that handle DR plans available from the ADA and state dental societies who can provide information on how to market DR plans.

Americans Eye Yellow Pages When Searching for Optometrists

Americans Eye Yellow Pages When Searching for Optometrists
”Optometrist” Yellow Pages Heading Referenced 47 Million Times Per Year

Whether seeking vision therapy, eyewear, contact lenses or a comprehensive eye exam, more than 13 million Americans look for optometrists each year in the Yellow Pages, reports the Yellow Pages Association.

In fact, the “Optometrist” Yellow Pages heading generates more than 47 million look-ups per year and ranks 52nd out of more than 4,000 headings. The need for eye care services is expected to grow through 2012 in response to the vision care needs of a growing and aging population. Baby boomers will be more likely to visit optometrists because of the onset of vision trouble in middle age, including problems resulting from extensive computer use, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Optometrists are the primary providers of eye care in the United States, so it makes perfect sense for them to appear in the Yellow Pages,” said Richard L. Wallingford, Jr., O.D., president of the American Optometric Association (AOA). “Because optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, it’s important that patients know how to find them locally through the Yellow Pages.”

After referencing the “Optometrist” heading, 91 percent of users make contact with an optometrist by phone, in person or by mail, demonstrating the power of the Yellow Pages in a buying decision. These figures lead to $7 of revenue for every $1 spent on Yellow Pages display advertising by local optometrists.

“Optometrists have historically relied on print and Internet Yellow Pages to help generate business because of the medium’s high return on investment,” said Larry Small, director of research for the YPA. “In fact, the average optometrist Yellow Pages display ad generates more than $65,000 in revenue annually.”


From The Editor: Getting New Patients: A Practice Management Mantra

Doctors all over the country and the world are still trying to figure out, “How can I get more new patients?”

The quest for new patients or customers is not indigenous to the medical professions. Every business is looking to find more people to buy their wares or sell their services to. We all know that word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing available.

All of the trillions of dollars spent by Coca-Cola, General Electric, IBM and the myriad other major corporations is only worthwhile due to excellent word-of-mouth created by satisfied customers. If Coke tasted like a typewriter, the company would be in big trouble no matter how much it spent on advertising.

Advertising is really only as effective as the product’s quality. If you have a lousy product, no amount of advertising will keep you alive. There is the oft-cited case of unleashed a tremendous advertising campaign utilizing a very recognizable pitchman, the Sock Puppet. But didn’t create a valuable, exchangeable product that would garner an excellent word-of-mouth reputation. And away it went into the nether regions of Internet Valhalla.

The point I’m making is simply that there are easy tools available to build an excellent reputation without sacrificing one’s standards or violating professional guidelines.

This quarter’s edition of Solutions will focus a bit on marketing solutions and building that word-of-mouth practice you should have.

You’ve invested too much time and money into your training to allow your lack of knowledge in marketing your practice make you poor.

Ken DeRouchie
Managing Editor

The Practice Solution Magazine