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I read an article a couple of months ago by Dr Rada Jones, an emergency room physician who penned “The 68 Laws of the ER”. I thought I would take a shot at just twenty or so for Dentistry. I feel like from 1975 till today, I ought to be able to reflect on those common catastrophes we all face and bring them into the light of day.

1. Murphy’s Law as it Applies to Dentistry: If something can go bad it will do so in a hurry. If it can’t possibly go bad, it will still find a way.
2. Clock’s First Rule: All your same day emergencies will all show up at the same time. Usually when the computer system goes down.
3. Clock’s Second Rule: All of your simple crown patients will need a root canal at the same time.
4. Clock’s Third Rule: The worst patient in your practice will always show up with a fractured tooth holding up an 8-unit bridge 15 minutes before the end of the day.
5. Mass’s Law: The mother-in-law of your worst patient is here for an emergency treatment and weighs 300 pounds and is in a wheel chair. Good luck.
6. Law’s First Rule: Every demanding patient has his or her lawyer on speed dial.
7. Law’s Second Rule: Every lawyer in town will be your patient.
8. Law’s Rule on Charting: The one case you documented poorly will file a Board complaint against you.
9. Urine’s Law: The specialist you called an hour ago will only call back when you go to the bathroom.
10. Hitchcock’s Theorem: Never date an employee. Just saying.
11. Prick’s Principle: The fear of needles is directly proportional to the number of tattoos.
12. Segway’s First Risk Theorem: The likelihood of medical errors increases exponentially for VIP’s.
13. Segway’s Second Risk Theorem: The nicer the patient, the worse the problem.
14. Pain’s Principle: Patient’s with no money and lots of problems are allergic to Motrin and Tylenol.
15. Poor’s First Law: Smoking is inversely correlated with the ability to afford your antibiotics.
16. Poor’s Second Law: The number of tattoos is inversely correlated with being able to afford dental care.
17. Poor’s Corollary: Beware the tooth to tattoo ratio.
18. Love’s Law: The patient who hugged you before he left has scabies.
19. Sucker’s Law: People who say “money is no object” will never have their checkbook with them to pay for treatment.
20. Luck’s Theorems: The likelihood of the computer crashing is directly proportional to the number of patients in the office. Multiply by five if it is your first day back from vacation. Add 10 if it’s a full moon. If you’re red haired and have at least one stepparent, divide by 0.25.
21. Needy’s Rule: Your worst patient will need you as soon as you leave to go home.
22. Bell’s Rule: Patients that are hard of hearing don’t have their hearing aids. If they do, the battery is dead.
23. Sage’s First Advice: Whenever a patient tells you: “You took care of my mom,” don’t’ ask how she is. She’s dead.
24. Sage’s Second Advice: The family member looking like the patient’s mother is his wife.
25. The Law of the Buck Stops Here: Everything you do is designed to give you the results you are getting. If it isn’t going well, you need to change.

This sadly is every one of our lives. Take the time to smile and roll with the punches. That is how you Summit.

Michael Abernathy, DDS
972.523.4660 cell
[email protected]

PS. In case you missed this last week, I will be speaking at an event here in the DFW area next month (Saturday, April 27). Seats were going fast and they were scrambling to secure a larger room. For more info just visit: