"Top-rated" dentists programs call for caution

It starts with a congratulatory phone call — a flattering call from a producer about an award from a top doctors show — and you, the recipient, have been nominated among your peers and chosen to be interviewed for a segment that will appear on a local television station.

It may sound like a promising way to improve professional visibility in your community among current and potential patients, but CDA urges dentists to proceed with caution before responding to such solicitations.

Since the beginning of the year, CDA has been contacted by several members questioning the validity of such programs after being contacted by someone representing "Meet the 2014 Top Rated Doctors and Dentists" and "Top Doc." Similar marketing programs geared for dentists and physicians have operated in California and nationwide over the past several years.

Dentists are generally requested to schedule an interview with the company to receive an award and afterward, are encouraged to sign a marketing agreement — for a monthly service fee — that seems to offer a promise of attracting new patients.

CDA urges members to seek legal advice and carefully review any contracts before signing up for any marketing arrangement with any company. In particular, as with any business arrangement, members should be aware of the term (length) of the contract and whether they may terminate the contract early in the event the services fail to meet their expectations.