Supreme Court Ruling Could Limit Medical Board Authority

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Monday, March 2, 2015

State medical boards may find it harder to fence off the practice of medicine from nonphysicians — think nurse practitioners — in the wake of today's Supreme Court decision in a case about teeth whitening.

In a 6–3 vote, the high court ruled that North Carolina's dental board violated the Sherman Antitrust Act when it shut down nondentists who were whitening teeth in malls and beauty shops because the board, composed mostly of practicing dentists, was not actively supervised by the state. Active supervision, the court said, would have shielded the board from a Sherman violation.

"[The Sherman Act] does not authorize the states to abandon markets to the unsupervised control of active market participants, whether trade associations or hybrid agencies," the court said, upholding a move by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the dental board's actions in the name of fair competition.

Dissenting from the majority opinion were Associate Justices Samuel Alito Jr, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
Read more on Medscape Medical News.