When you think of medical malpractice, you most likely think of doctors or hospitals. However, there is a growing incidence of dental malpractice in the country as well. Errors are made by dentists, hygienists and dental assistants that could cause severe injury and have led to death. These ten errors are the leading cause of malpractice claims in the dental industry.
Although a tooth extraction may seem like a routine process in a dental office, complications can arise. You could suffer nerve damage during an extraction and there is also the risk facial fractures. You may be unaware that the sinus cavity is located very close to the mouth and there have been incidents where the sinus cavity was perforated during a tooth extraction. In some cases, dentists have neglected to refer someone who may have suffered an injury, even one as serious as a perforated sinus, for follow-up treatment leading to further complications.
Infections and lost implants are another reason people file malpractice claims against dentists. In some cases, infections have been severe enough to cause death. In the case of bridges, crowns or other dental appliances used to replace lost teeth, including dentures, dentists have faced malpractice claims when the appliances are ill-fitting, improperly aligned or cause significant discomfort. There have been cases where dentists provided a lack of treatment planning that led them to face malpractice suits.
Dentists are required to perform examinations that can identify serious oral disease, including oral cancer, periodontal disease and others that can lead to complications or even death. When a dentist fails to identify a serious illness, especially cancer, patients may suffer irreparable harm, including death. This could lead to the patient and their families filing a malpractice claim against the dentist who failed to diagnose diseases.
Dentists may require you to sign a consent form before performing certain procedures. However, while performing the procedure, a dentist may find an issue that was not explained to you or included on the form. They may perform a procedure to address that issue as it seems to be a minor problem at the time. If something goes wrong, however, the dentist may be facing a malpractice suit since you did not give consent for the additional procedure.
Dentists, just like other medical professionals, sometimes neglect to listen when a patient feels their treatment isn’t working. If your dentist isn’t communicating properly, you may decide to get a second opinion. If you hear from the second dentist that the work done by your previous dentist was not done properly or that it must be redone, your first dentist may be facing a malpractice claim.
Just as in other medical professions, there are dental specialties. If your dentist fails to refer you to a specialist after finding a significant problem, you may have a malpractice claim. If your general dentist treats you for an issue when you should have been referred to a specialist, the dentist is held to the same level of care as someone who has been certified as a specialist for that problem.
Too often, we don’t consider the anesthesia used in a dentist office to be as risky as anesthesia used in an operating room. The fact is, drugs used to numb pain in a dentist office are the same used in hospitals. Even something as routine as Novocain can cause problems as patients may be allergic or could have a bad reaction to the anesthesia. Dentistry IQ found in a recent survey that eight dental patients died as a result of complications from dental anesthesia and three of them were children. In other cases, injections of Novocain or other numbing agents damaged the lingual nerve.
Like any medical procedure, dental treatments have a risk of infection. If your dentist fails to address the infection, you could suffer serious injury. There have been reports of dental infections that led to brain abscesses and other serious medical conditions. One patient in in recent studies developed septic arthritis as the result of an infection that was left untreated.
Tooth extractions, crowns or other dental procedures are normally necessary to protect a patient’s health. However, if a dentist performs a procedure that is later determined to be unnecessary, you may have a malpractice claim. This is especially true if the dentist did not fully explain the procedure and the reason it was being performed.
Any medical procedure runs the risk of permanent damage, but healthcare professionals are required to inform patients what complications could arise. When those are not explained and permanent damage occurs, the dentist may be guilty of malpractice.
If you or a loved one has suffered complications after a dental procedure, contact Lundy Law today to learn how we can help. Contact us by phone or through our easy contact form to arrange a consultation regarding a possible personal injury claim today.