A critical question in medicine will be before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall: How much power should doctors wield over their peers when the power to regulate also potentially could tamp down competition that benefits consumers?
The court announced Monday that on Oct. 8 the justices will hear oral arguments in the case of North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. the Federal Trade Commission.
The title might make it seem like a narrow controversy, but the case will give the court a chance to weigh in on a topic that could affect healthcare pricing, shortages of clinicians and the presumption that medical professionals provide safe care.
All 50 states require the practice of medicine to be regulated by doctors and dentists. But in North Carolina, the FTC accused the dental board of essentially exercising monopoly power by forbidding hygienists in places such as spas and mall kiosks from using hydrogen peroxide solutions to whiten teeth.