(a) For purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(1) ADVERTISEMENT. Information communicated in a manner designed to attract public attention to a referral service, participating dentist, or a practice of dentistry.
(2) DENTAL REFERRAL SERVICE. A person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, agent, or employee of any of the foregoing that engages in any business or service for profit that in whole or in part includes the referral or recommendation of persons to a dentist for any form of dental care or treatment.
(3) DENTIST. Any person licensed to practice dentistry or any entity authorized by law which is formed for the purpose of practicing dentistry.
(4) FALSE, FRAUDULENT, MISLEADING, OR DECEPTIVE STATEMENT. A statement or claim having one or more of the following characteristics:
a. One that contains a misrepresentation of fact.
b. One that is likely to mislead or deceive because in context it makes only a partial disclosure of relevant facts.
c. One that is intended or is likely to create a false or unjustified expectation of favorable results.
d. One that implies unusual superior dental ability.
e. One that contains other representations or implications that in reasonable probability will cause an ordinary and prudent person to misunderstand or be deceived.
(5) PARTICIPATING DENTIST. A dentist who has paid a fee to the dental referral service in order to be included on its referral service.
(b) A dental referral service shall not participate in the advertising of or operate a dental referral service unless all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The patient referrals by the dental referral service result from patient-initiated responses to the service's advertising.
(2) The dental referral service discloses to any prospective patient who makes contact with the service that the participating dentists have paid a fee for participation in the service.
(3) The dental referral service does not impose a fee on the participating dentists dependent on the number of referrals or amount of professional fees paid by the patient to the dentist.
(4) Participating dentists charge no more than their usual and customary fees to any patient referred.
(5) The dental referral service registers with the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama providing all the following information:
b. Street address.
c. Mailing address.
d. Telephone number.
e. Name of registered agent or person responsible for the operation of the dental referral service.
f. Listing of other states where the dental referral service is registered.
g. A copy of the standard form contract that regulates its relationship with participating dentists.
(c) Participating dentists shall not enter into a contract or other form or agreement to accept for dental care or treatment a person referred or recommended for the care or treatment by a dental referral service unless the dental referral service meets all the requirements of this section.
(d) A dental referral service that advertises shall include in each advertisement in legible or audible language, or both, a disclaimer containing all the following statements or information that:
(1) The participating dentist of the dental referral service is a dentist who has paid a fee to participate in the service.
(2) The advertisement is paid for by participating dentists.
(3) No representation is made about the quality of the dental services to be performed or the expertise of the participating dentists.
(4) Participating dentists are not more or less qualified than dentists who are not participating in the service.
(e) Dental referral service advertisements shall not do any of the following:
(1) Advertise or solicit patients in a manner that contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement in any material respect.
(2) Publish or circulate, directly or indirectly, any false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement as to the skill or methods of practice of any participating dentist.
(3) Contain a statement or make a recommendation that the dental referral service provides referrals to the most qualified dentists or dental practices.
(4) Contain a review process or a screening.
(5) Contain qualifications or information verification that misleads the public into thinking a participating dentist has obtained special recognition or joined a selective group of licensed dentists by being a participating dentist in the dental referral service.
(f) A violation of Sections 34-9-15, 34-9-19, 34-9-28, or this section, including, but not limited to, advertising in any manner which is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive, shall subject a participating dentist to possible administrative disciplinary actions outlined in Section 34-9-18, after notice and hearing by the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama and the opportunity for judicial review as provided in this article.
Last modified: May 3, 2021