Dental treatment that falls below acceptable standards and causes personal injury or illness may be considered dental malpractice. Dental malpractice should be taken as seriously as any type of medical negligence. Because of dental malpractice Individuals can experience damage to nerves in the tongue, lips, and jaw as well as other types of injuries making it difficult to speak or eat. According to Insurance for Dentists (IFD), over 13 percent of malpractice claims are filed against dentists. The following describes various injuries that can be caused by dental malpractice, ways to prove dental malpractice, and why it may be necessary to take legal action.
Injuries Caused by Dental Malpractice
In extreme cases death can occur due to dental malpractice. Failing to correctly administer anesthesia or misdiagnosing oral cancer can in some instances lead to a patient’s untimely death. Even when the outcomes are not as extreme, a variety of injuries and failed procedures may still be classified as dental malpractice.
- Numbness in areas of the mouth or loss of taste can occur because of improper dental procedures.
- Extraction of the wrong tooth or unnecessary extraction are examples of negligence.
- Medication errors or problems due to incorrect use of anesthesia can cause temporary or permanent injuries.
- Complications that result from faulty materials used in bridges or crowns can damage the teeth, gums, or other areas in the mouth.
- Blood or gum infections that develop after a procedure may be the result of improper treatment.
While injuries related to tooth loss, nerve damage, and incorrectly performing root canals and crown treatments are often cause for malpractice, other types of negligence can also result in serious injury. These can include the use of faulty equipment or the failure to diagnose any number of oral conditions.
Procedures That Have Greater Incidence of Malpractice Claims
Dentistryiq.com states that there are several types of procedures that more often lead to injury and malpractice claims.
- Tooth Extractions – Several types of complications can occur if tooth extractions are not performed properly or if adequate follow-up is not completed. A few complications can include damage to the sinuses and severed nerves.
- Endodontic Procedures – Endodontic procedures are treatments that primarily include root canals. Some of the injuries resulting from these procedures include materials being left inside the canals and life threatening infections.
- Dental Implants – Implants that have been placed improperly can damage nerves. Infections can also occur and in some cases patients’ jaws have been fractured.
- Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease is gum disease that the dentist either failed to diagnose or treat in a timely manner.
How to Prove Dental Malpractice
According to oralanswers.com there are several areas of proof that are normally required to be able to win a dental malpractice suit. The required level of proof is basically the same as what would be required in a general medical malpractice claim.
- It is necessary to prove the dentist had a duty to care for the patient who has been injured. Providing documentation that the dentist was treating the patient is usually enough to establish this first point of criteria.
- The next step is to prove that the dentist violated the expected standard of care. This may be established by a dental expert who has experience with the procedure that the patient received when the injury occurred.
- It is also required to show that the dentist actually injured the patient. The type and extent of the injury would need to be proven.
- Finally, it’s necessary to show the connection between the violated standard of care and the injury the patient received. Again, an expert witness may be needed to prove that the injuries were specifically caused by the dentist’s negligent treatment. It’s important to have detailed records proving the exact procedures the dentist performed on the patient.
Taking Legal Action
If you have been injured after undergoing dental treatments or procedures you may be eligible for compensation. Injuries, pain, and even disability can be as severe after dental malpractice as with medical errors. Because what is considered an acceptable standard of care may be difficult to define, it’s important to consult an attorney who has experience working in the area of dental malpractice. To find out if you are eligible for compensation call our firm today and receive a free legal review.
Oralanswers.com – http://www.oralanswers.com/sue-your-dentist-and-win-malpractice-lawsuit/
Dentistryiq.com – http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/wdj/print/volume-2/issue-8/you-and-your-practice/a-review-of-dental-negligence.html
Insurance for Dentists – http://www.ifdfordentists.com/dental-malpractice-insurance/dentists-malpractice-claims-most-common/