Legal Resources

Andrew headshotYour NYSDA membership allows you access to a multitude of legal resources and services. Ranging from legal protection and peer review to providing a code of ethics and legal policy guidance, you, your career, and your practice are in safe hands.

Don't forget to stay informed and compliant with dental regulations. Our legal and regulatory support ensures you have the latest information and guidance.


Legal Protection Plan

The NYSDA Legal Protection Plan is designed to protect your career investment by providing legal coverage in exchange for a payment for potential claims, proceedings and/or investigations. It is not insurance or an insurance plan. It provides The plan safeguards your practice and protects you from the financial and emotional devastation of unexpected encounters with federal and state regulatory agencies, insurance companies, managed care plans, and the Office of Professional Discipline.

Stay Protected

Legal Services Panel

The New York State Dental Association offers a panel of attorneys and law firms to whom NYSDA members can go for legal advice on dental matters including: Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) cases; Managed care plan and dental insurance contract analysis; Medicaid; Dental practice formation and practice sales and employment matters; and Commercial litigation and collections. Learn more.

Forms and Documents for Your Practice

NYSDA has created model forms for dental offices to use on a variety of critical topics like HIPAA compliance, patient consent, terminating the doctor/patient relationship, and other commonly encountered issues.  The forms can and should be modified where necessary to adapt to the specific needs of your dental office.  They provide a basic framework for handling matters that frequently arise in a dental office in accordance with legal and sound risk management principles.

Sample Forms

Sample Letters

Letter to Terminate a Patient (PDF)
Notice of Jury Duty (PDF)
Letters to Patients: Practice closure, retirement, and patient records. (PDF)


Peer Review

New York State Dental Association members demonstrate their commitment to quality care through our Peer Review and Quality Assurance Program.

Peer Review provides a confidential, impartial and timely way to resolve complaints about the appropriateness and quality of dental treatment provided by NYSDA-member dentists. Participation in this alternative dispute resolution process is a membership requirement.

Peer Review resolves patient complaints confidentially. Neither the process nor its outcome is reported to any outside agency – or the public. Peer Reviews are resolved by a committee of impartial professional peers. Peer Review resolutions are final. Peer Review findings have been upheld by the court, providing the doctor with immunity from subsequent litigation.

A Guide to Peer Review outlines the process a Peer Review case undergoes on its way to resolution.
The Peer Review Manual: PR Manual 2017 -- is the official rules document for the Peer Review process.

Peer Review provides:

  • An alternative to resolve complaints about dental treatment;
  • An objective evaluation of treatment by a committee of impartial professional peers;
  • Confidentiality;
  • A refund of fees to the patient when treatment is not consistent with the standard of care.

To be eligible for Peer Review:

  • Treatment must be provided by a NYSDA member dentist; 
  • Treatment must have been completed within 2 ½ years prior to submission of the Agreement to Submit to Peer Review;  
  • Dispute cannot have been submitted to or resolved by an alternative mechanism; i.e., collection action, legal proceeding, OPD, etc.

Benefits to NYSDA Members 

  • Process is confidential. There is no reporting to any outside entity, i.e., OPD, National Practitioner Data Bank, the public, etc;
  • Process is definitive and final. Parties cannot sue subsequent to a Peer Review decision. The process has been upheld repeatedly by the courts;
  • Treatment is evaluated by your professional peers;
  • When treatment is found to be acceptable, the doctor receives the fees owed by the patient.

Peer Review Training Video's

Please click here to watch the peer review training videos. 

Sexual Harassment

The mandated 2023 Sexual Harassment Training is now available. To complete the training:

  1. Watch the 2023 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Video
  2. Complete the Sexual Harassment Assessment Form
  3. Dentists should keep the form for their employees on file

Sexual Harassment Assessment Form: New York State Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Assessment Form (

Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy: Sexual Harassment Prevention Model Policy

Model Sexual Harassment Complaint Form:  Sexual Harassment Model Complaint Form

The term "sexual harassment" refers to unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature directed at an individual whose submission to, or rejection of this conduct is used explicitly or implicitly as a factor in decisions affecting his/her hiring, evaluation, promotion or other aspects of employment. It also encompasses conduct that substantially interferes with a person's employment or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment.

According to regulations issued in 1980 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), two types of sexual harassment are unlawful under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act (1964):

  • Quid pro quo harassment, in which the supervising employee "acts in the behalf" of the employer in holding out the employer's benefits as an inducement to the employee for sexual favors
  • Hostile environment harassment, which may occur absent any economic effect, and which translates into a pervasive atmosphere of discriminatorily severe or unwelcome working conditions that interfere with the individual's work performance

Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwanted sexual demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment or continued employment
  • Repeated sexual jokes, flirtations, advances or propositios
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Graphic verbal commentary about an individual's body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies
  • Leering, whistling, touching, pinching, assault, obscene or demeaning comments or gestures
  • Display in the office of sexually suggestive pictures or objects


Your Liability as an Employer

Under the principle of respondent superior, the courts have consistently held that the employer is strictly liable in the case of quid pro quo harassment, whether or not the employer had been aware of the employee's conduct.

In hostile environment harassment, the employer may be held liable if management level employees had been aware of the existence of a sexually hostile environment and neglected to take prompt and adequate remedial action.


What You Can Do to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Prevention through education is the key to avoiding liability and to overcoming sexual harassment in the dental workplace. It is incumbent upon every dentist employer to educate his/her entire staff about sexual harassment and to review the specific procedures staff should follow if they feel they are being sexually harassed. These procedures should be designed to encourage victims of harassment to come forward. Every office should have a designated investigator for sexual harassment complaints. If the dental office is large enough, two people should be appointed to investigate the alleged harassment. Included in the office policy concerning sexual harassment should be a protocol for reporting and investigating any sexual harassment complaints. The protocol should be publicized and supported by the employer(s).


What to Do if an Employee is Being Harassed

If one of your employees claims to be a target of sexual harassment, it is important that he/she promptly and clearly notify the designated investigators of the alleged incident. The employee should be assured that, as an employer, you take all complaints of sexual harassment seriously, and that the investigators will do their best to explore the matter expeditiously and as confidentially as possible. A separate, confidential file should be created and maintained by the investigators. Through interviews with the complainant, the alleged harasser and any available witnesses, the investigators gather the facts, evaluate the evidence, prepare a written report and, finally, decide upon an appropriate action. (c) 1995

Code of Ethics

The practice of dentistry was established as a profession with one overriding principle in mind: the benefit of the patient. This is the cornerstone of dental ethics. This philosophy is the foundation of The Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct of the New York State Dental Association. All members should make the Principles and Code an important part of the very fabric of their practices.

The 5 Promises ADA Dentists Make to Their Patients

New York Dental Practice Act

The Dental Practice Act guide (PDF), prepared by NYSDA, is provided as a service to members of NYSDA who need a concise source of information regarding the laws and regulations that make up the body of the New York State Dental Practice Act.

It should be noted that sections of law and regulation outside of the Dental Practice Act are not included in this guide and that anyone needing additional information should contact an attorney or NYSDA. Also, it is important to remember that New York's Dental Practice Act is a "living" document which is continually subject to amendment.

Legislation to know as a practice owner:

NYS Paid Sick Leave

On April 3, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed legislation establishing the right to paid leave for New Yorkers. New York's paid sick leave law requires employers with five or more employees or net income of more than $1 million to provide paid sick leave to employees and for employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or less to arovide unpaid sick leave to employees. Learn more >>

Family Medical Leave

New York State Paid Family Leave Law went into effect January 1, 2018. 

The New York State Paid Family Leave Law took effect on January 1, 2018.  This important law applies to all employers in New York State, including all dental practices, regardless of size or type--no exceptions, no exemptions.  It is not a law NYSDA supported, but it was a priority of the governor, which coupled with broad public support, made it a law the Legislature was destined to pass. Learn more >>

HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) mandates data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information. Federal HIPAA regulations include requirements for doctors to safeguard, store and transmit electronically maintained information to protect patients’ privacy. Adherence to these requirements can help dentists avoid potential prosecution and sanctions. In addition to the requirements for the security associated with information technology and electronically maintained patient health records, both HIPAA and New York State laws include provisions for the protection of patient privacy. Learn more >>

Lance's Corner

Did you know NYSDA members can stay up to date on government affairs from our in-house attorney, Lance Plunkett? Check out his blog, Lance's Corner to stay informed.

Lance's Corner