‘Ethical Moment’ series in JADA commemorates 20th anniversary

Articles, written by council members, give practical answers to everyday dilemmas

From left: Meredith A. Bailey, D.M.D., Alex Mellion, D.M.D., Debra Peters, D.D.S.

The “Ethical Moment” series in The Journal of the American Dental Association is marking its 20th anniversary and doesn’t appear to be sunsetting any time soon, according to Alex Mellion, D.M.D., a past member of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs.

“I think that the ‘Ethical Moments’ are as pertinent as ever,” said Dr. Mellion, who has written two installments of the series.

“Ethical Moment” is primarily authored by members of the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, with the recurring articles sharing information about ethical dilemmas encountered by dentists in their professional and personal lives.

Debra Peters, D.D.S., Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs chair, said while many things change with the advancement in dentistry, the ethical principles remain the same.

“The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conducthave endured the test of time and are the standards that dentists apply to situations for themselves,” Dr. Peters said. “The ‘Ethical Moment’ articles provide examples to members of the application of the principles in real-world issues.”

The series debuted in May 2004, when Ken Jones, D.D.S., J.D., a former CEBJA chair, helped conceive the series, which debuted in May 2004, and served as consultant for several years.

The “Ethical Moment” articles were conceived as a way to give practical answers to everyday dilemmas, Dr. Jones said.

“As dentists, we are ethical,” he said. “When you get a [dental] degree, people trust you, and we should uphold that trust.”

One example of a recent “Ethical Moment” article is “Ethical principles and posting on social media platforms,” authored by Dr. Mellion and Meredith A. Bailey, D.M.D., past council chair as well as contributor to the series. It was published in the March 2023 issue of JADA.

“Authoring an ‘Ethical Moment’ article is a privilege as a council member,” Dr. Bailey said. “It was special for me to collaborate with my friend and colleague Dr. Mellion about a topic that continues to raise ethical questions from ADA members. As dentists, we are respected and trusted members of our communities, and we must always protect and preserve the integrity of the profession. This special confidence must be considered when posting content online or on social media platforms.”

Dr. Mellion said he sees so many of his colleagues sharing stories or asking for advice on patient interactions or scenarios on many online forums.

“All of these posts and questions are rooted in ethical examples, and CEBJA’s articles outline how to review a scenario and then look at it from all sides with an ethical foundation,” he said.

Council members not only continue to author articles but they also created a podcast that debuted in 2022 titled “Dental Dilemmas” that uses the vast database of “Ethical Moment” articles accumulated over the last two decades.

Each podcast episode highlights a past “Ethical Moment” article and an interview the author or authors. Dr. Mellion served as  the inagural host.

To date, 29 episodes have been released, and the podcast is available on most listening platforms.

“We have found this platform useful to spread ethical information in a modern form for all dentists,” Dr. Bailey said.

“I’m excited to see how these ‘Ethical Moments’ will continue to evolve with all of the new ways that dentists consume different forms of media, Dr. Mellion said.






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