My last blog was accompanied by a painting of Washington and a photo of Lincoln. The website host told me he didn’t want to include the images and instead substituted another image of Washington (and omitted Lincoln altogether) because he thought there might be a “copyright infringement” problem. The painting of Washington was done by Gilbert Stuart — dead almost 200 years. I doubt he’ll sue. Besides, that painting is on the one dollar bill — it’s not like everyone doesn’t have access to it anyway. The photographer of Lincoln has probably been dead over 100 years — he won’t be suing either. Besides, what would the damages be? It’s not like this blog is run for profit or that we get that many people visiting the website!
Sometimes it seems like we’re afraid of our own shadows! It’s similar in dentistry and medicine. There are physicians and dentists who practice “defensive” medicine and dentistry — that is they do what they think is best for the doctor (in the mistaken belief that it will prevent lawsuits) and not what’s best for the patient. For example, antibiotics, which are prescription medications with potential serious side-effects, are often overprescribed in some patients before dental procedures as a preventive for heart infections.
Fortunately, the American Heart Association issued its latest statement in 2007 (http://jada.info/cgi/content/full/139/suppl_1/3S), and antibiotics are no longer recommended before dental procedures to prevent heart infections in most situations. The few situations in which antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended include patients with artificial heart valves and previous history of endocarditis.