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MILITIA DENTAL SURGEONS.
By S. D. Boak, M. D., D. D. S., Dental Surgeon, U. S. Army, West Point, N. Y.
(This article is written to answer many inquiries received regarding the status of the
T IS not generally known by the profession at large that under existing
federal legislation all original appointees to the militia dental corps must serve three years as acting dental surgeons (contract dental surgeons) before they can be commissioned as first lieutenants. To quote from the 1913 Report of the Chief, Division of Militia Affairs, in the office of the Chief of Staff, U. S. Army: "Dental surgeons are authorized at the rate of not to exceed one for each thousand of actual enlisted strength. All original appointments to the dental corps shall be as acting dental surgeons and after three years' service in a manner satisfactory to the governor, or commanding general, District of Columbia Militia, such appointees may be appointed dental surgeons and be commissioned as first lieutenants in the dental corps." This decision is based on the Act of Congress approved March 3, 1911, establishing the Dental Corps of the U. S. Army.
Correspondence was held with the Adjutant Generals of the forty-nine states in regard to the dental surgeons appointed in their militia under existing federal militia legislation, which resulted in the following: the following states have appointed dental surgeons: Michigan, one first lieutenant; Iowa, three first lieutenants and acting dental surgeons; Alabama, two first lieutenants; Texas, two acting dental surgeons; N. Carolina, three first lieutenants; S. Da
kota, one first lieutenant; Oklahoma, one assistant dental surgeon; Nebraska, one first lieutenant acting dental surgeon; California and Maryland state that one is to be appointed in the near future. Idaho has less than one thousand troops and none has been appointed for that reason. Utah states that none will be appointed under present organization. Colorado states that the military board in the near future will recommend the necessary changes be made in the code to include dental surgeons. Ohio states that under the state laws no appointments of dental surgeons have been made. Delaware states that the militia law of the State does not provide for a dental surgeon in the organized militia of Delaware. N. Dakota code does not provide for the appointment of dental surgeons.
Status of U. S. Army Dental Surgeon.
Acting dental surgeons, U. S. Army, receive pay at the rate of $150.00 per month. They are entitled to travel allowance in obeying their first orders, in changing stations, and in returning to their homes at the termination of service. They are allowed quarters in kind, with the regulation allowance of fuel and light, where public quarters are available; they are entitled to commutation of quarters, medical care and treatment during sickness on duty. They have the privilege of purchasing certain
supplies from Army stores at reasonable prices for their own use.
Acting dental surgeons, like commissioned officers in U. S. Army, furnish their own uniforms, personal equipment and food. The federal government does not grant retirement to acting dental surgeons. Commissioned dental surgeons in U. S. Army are entitled to retirement when disability occurs in the line of duty, or for age. Officers of the Dental Corps have rank in said corps according to the date of their commissions therein and shall rank next below officers of the Medical Reserve Corps. Their right to command is limited to the Dental Corps. Each dental surgeon is allowed one enlisted assistant (Private or Private First Class, Hospital Corps.)
Status of Militia Dental Surgeon. Commissioned dental surgeons in Volunteers, like other Volunteer officers, are not entitled to retirement under the federal law; but they may acquire a pensionable status if disabled in the line of duty. The pay of both acting and commissioned dental surgeons while with state militia is regulated by the state; the pay of both acting and commissioned dental surgeons serving in camps of instruction under the federal militia law, or as U. S. Volunteers, is the same for corresponding grades in the regular Army.
A list of the portable dental outfit prescribed for the Army dental surgeon can be obtained by addressing the Surgeon General, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES
OF THE NATIONAL DENTAL ASSOCIATION
HELD AT ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, JULY 7-10, 1914
Second Session-Tuesday, 3:00 P. M., July 7
Discussion on seating of Dr. Richard Grady as delegate from the Navy Dental Corps. By unanimous consent, Dr. Wms. Donnally, of this Corps, was extended the privileges of the floor and stated that the Surgeon General of the Navy had held that under existing conditions no member of the Corps could be officially designated to represent the Corps in the House of Delegates at this meeting, but that he hoped to officially designate a delegate next year. The President stated that this was in conformity with a letter from Surgeon General Braidstead and ruled that under existing conditions no delegate could officially represent the Navy, but requested that the House of Delegates extend every possible courtesy to the representatives of the Navy Dental Corps.
THE PRESIDENT reported that a cable had been sent to the Secretary of the International Dental Congress and that telegrams had been sent to officials at Washington, as directed by the previous meeting. He also reported that he was in receipt of a telegram from his congressman (Brumbaugh) acknowledging his letter of Saturday and stating that the matter would be vigorously pushed.
The President called for report of Committee as the next order of business.
REPORT OF THE LAW COMMITTEE.
This Committee was appointed two years ago for the purpose of investigating conditions relative to defense of the members of this association against malpractise suits. During this time, the committee has been active, and has issued reports from time to time, the result being that committee was continued. This continuation of the committee is largely due to the importance of the issues involved.
There is no dentist who is immune from a damage sult. Because he has never had one he may feel that his reputation is secure. Who knows but that tomorrow may happen the slip of an instrument, an outraged patient, and a malpractise suit. Dentists are human and liable to err. The tissues involved are delicate, our patients are not always reasonable, thus we have a combination which brings about disaster.
It is not the money loss which most sorely
afflicts the dentist when he loses the case, that is bad enough, but when he counts also the loss of his reputation, and his practise thereby, it becomes greater a thousand fold. A reputation that has taken years to establish may be destroyed by successfully handled malpractise suit. Again there is a great loss of time, and the dentist, who is closely confined to his office, does not have it to spare. In a case of this kind it is absolutely necessary that the dentist be represented by the very ablest attorneys; for very largely his reputation lies in the hands of his attorney. The local attorney is rarely able alone to undertake the defense a dentist should have. It also requires the aid of an expert.
Court records show a constant increase in the number of damage suits, and with some of our ablest dental practitioners involved. These dentists never realize the worry, anxiety, loss of time and expense of such law suits until they become suddenly involved and had to protect their reputations against some imaginary cause for complaint. It is the part of prudence for every dentist to make provision against possible suits of this kind.
There are at present, excellent companies which for an annual premium will undertake this sort of defense. Owing to the cost involved in operating these companies, and the consequent high premium, only a few of our members have availed themselves of this method. A much better way of securing defense is thru the action of large professional organizations. A number of state medical societies now protect their members from alleged malpractise suits at a very small fraction of the cost exacted by insurance companies. Some dental societies also have done work in this line. Often these societies employ the same attorneys as do the insurance companies.
If this association should undertake this work, this committee should prepare an insurance policy covering all its members, and deposit the same with the secretary. This policy should agree to undertake the defense of any members sued for any work done while this policy was in force, and the costs and charges incidental to the trial shall be paid free of charge to the member. It would not be wise for the policy to undertake to pay judgments, since in some states this is considered illegal. This point is not of very great importance, however, for statistics show that there are very few cases ever lost to a dentist, where his society has undertaken his defense.
The funds for this work should be kept by the treasurer of this association, and should be kept separately from the regular funds in his keeping. Bills should be paid by vouchers and the books audited each year. As the reserve fund grows, it should be placed at interest, and allowed to accumulate. To operate this plan a very small sum is needed yearly, perhaps twenty-five cents (or fifty cents) a year per member. If some one year
JAN 31 1917
THE JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL DENTAL ASSOCIATION.
we could collect an extra dollar to start the reserve fund, it would make us very safe. At least we could try it out on this basis as a starter. These yearly dues should be collected thru the same channels, along with the regular dues, from each member. The work of this defense should be conducted by a committee of this association, assisted by a General Counsel, whom they shall appoint. There should be elected from each state and district society, a committee of one to cooperate with your committee in handling local affairs. Owing to the fact that this work has been tried out in other organizations, your committee have no hesitation in recommending this plan. If it is not feasible to use funds for this purpose at this time, work could be started to get the organization in shape and committees elected for future work. We must remember, however, that the longer the delay, the longer we wait for the benefits.
C. B. WARNER,
ON MOTION, duly seconded, the Laws Committee Report was referred to Committee on Reports of Officers.
REPORT OF PUBLIC DENTAL EDUCATION
The education of the public along dental lines continues to make perceptible growth, and to show a reasonable advance for the last year. It is not desirable that there should be excessive agitation along this line. As a dignified profession, we should not countenance barn storming methods, for in the end more is lost than is gained by this kind of publicity. On the other hand it is not necessary that we sit idly by, when the need of public dental education is so great. It has even been suggested that we be not so strenuous and give the profession an opportunity to educate itself to the high standard of ability that we have been talking to the people about.
There are many legitimate methods of public dental education, among which may be mentioned the press, both thru newspapers and magazines, public lectures, booklets, moving picture films, dental inspection in the schools, the help given by other organizations, and the help given by our friends and patients.
Thru the medium, and assistance of, the newspapers, there has been printed in the last four years about 100,000 half column articles on the care of the teeth. This was done thru organized campaigns, by means of prepared plates sent to the newspapers. We are pleased to report, that as a whole, the newspapers were very kind to us in this regard. In a few notable instances, some of the larger papers went back on
their word, thus entailing loss and trouble for the committee. There is no possibility for this kind of loss to occur under our present method of handling-we learn by experience. We are having some good dental articles in our popular magazines. One magazine, at present writing which goes to over 2,000,000 subscribers, is now publishing a series of three dental articles written by one of the best men in the profession and many others during the year have carried single articles on this subject. This is a line of work, that by a little judicious handling, will produce valuable results.
The matter of public dental lectures deserves our earnest attention. While good work has been done in New York, Illinois, and some of the other states, yet we have barely scratched the ground for the harvest that is in store for us in this line. The public schools, the woman's clubs, and other organizations are always glad to have a speaker on such an important subject as the teeth. Heretofore, we have largely depended on a few well known speakers to do this work, and the result has been that they are overworked. We should have a few well written notes at hand that can be sent to any dentist, together with lantern slides, by which the ordinary dentist may be enabled to give a creditable address.
In the matter of booklets, we have depended too largely upon those issued by commercial houses. While a few of these are meritorious, yet there is no doubt that a well prepared booklet, that had no strings tied to it, would be more effective. This could be made authoritative, and such that it could be used by the most ethical dentist. Oftentimes it is much easier to pass a booklet to an inquiring patient, than to take the time for a long explanation. These booklets should be published at a very small cost. As a starter, the district societies should order them for distribution among their members, and insist that a certain number be given out yearly. We have not yet seen the booklet that is ideal for this purpose, but are of the opinion that one can be written that will be both entertaining and instructive.
Those men who promoted the plan of an educational dental moving picture film deserve great credit. There are now many films scattered all over the country, and they reach a class of people that is difficult to reach in any other way. This fleld ought not to be dropt for there are many valuable features in it. Possibly in the course of time we may be able thru financial, or other means, to induce film manufacturers to introduce in some of their commercial films, certain dental features which will have a beneficial effect.
Dental inspection in the schools continues to grow, but not as fast as it should. Our dental journals were full of it a year or two ago, but we do not hear so much about it now. We must not consider this a fad only for a short season, it is perhaps our greatest work of education and