Perplexing ethical and legal concerns cross health professions and reach into many professions and vocations. Confidentiality is crucial not only to the health professional and the patient, but also to the lawyer and client, and the investigative reporter and the source. Reporting poor work or whistleblowing is a dilemma not only for dentists and other health care professionals, but also for the engineer, architect, and federal employee, among others. This survey of the ethical or legal perceptions of the dental practitioner supports two conclusions: perplexing situations are perceived as predominantly ethical rather than legal problems and the factor of age (number of years in practice) might affect this trend toward the ethical consideration of complicated issues. Understanding the nature of these and other perplexing situations requires that dental practitioners step beyond the confines of their practice and the boundaries of the dental profession to search for more effective ways of dealing with, and therefore living with, the realities of their practice.
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