Eagan, MN – In a statement issued early Friday afternoon to his staff and colleagues, Eagan, Minnesota-based, board-certified dermatologist, and Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD announced that his medical practice would not be conducting dental examinations, filling cavities, or otherwise engaging in dentistry of any kind. He stated the decision was irrevocable and would be effective immediately.
Recently, Dr. Crutchfield has had several patients tell him, in horror, that their dentist has offered them Botox injections administered by a dental assistant while still in the dental chair. “The allure of practicing in an area that a professional, or the professional’s staff, have no training or experience can be tempting to make a quick buck, but I believe we owe it to our patients and our professions to perform procedures for which we are competent,” Crutchfield explained. “Society’s limitation of practicing medicine to licensed professionals, like doctors and dentists, is based on the belief that a license equates to training in that area. Even as more professionals, like, say, dentists – or worse yet, their assistants – perform medical treatments like Botox that are well outside their training and licensure, real professionals will suppress any greed reflex and focus their practice on areas they know.”
However, wouldn’t turnabout be fair play? Nor for Crutchfield.
“We have very talented nurses and medical assistants. I know they would have no trouble reviewing some YouTube videos and practicing on friends and family to conduct basic dental exams and treatments,” Crutchfield continues. “A few might even do orthodontics to make some extra cash. However, ethically, we are not going to do that. What if they miss something major causing severe damage to a patient’s dental health? This question is the same concern with dentists and dental assistants performing skin treatments like Botox with no training or licensure in the physiology and treatment of skin.”
While Dr. Crutchfield states that his position is on of ethics and integrity, it may also be a matter of law. Under Minnesota Statues, the practice of medicine is clearly defined to include injections like Botox, just as dental care is limited to dentists.
“We have never considered whether physicians and their assistants performing dental procedures is illegal because we would never expose patients to risk from procedures we do not specialize in,” Crutchfield explains.
Does his ethical stand on patient safety make Crutchfield a hero?
“I do not think so,” he responds. “Any competent, ethical professional would do the same.”
Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD, is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Medical School and a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Crutchfield is an annual selection in the “Top Doctors” issue of Mpls. St. Paul magazine. He is also the only dermatologist to have been selected as a “Best Doctor for Women” by Minnesota Monthly magazine since the inception of the survey. Dr. Crutchfield has been selected as one of the “Best Doctors in America,” an honor awarded to only 4% of all practicing physicians. Dr. Crutchfield is the co-author of a children’s book on sun protections and dermatology textbook. He is a member of the ΑΩΑ National Medical Honor Society, an expert consultant for WebMD and CNN, and a recipient of the Karis Humanitarian Award from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.