How to Prove Dental Malpractice
Since malpractice is a legal term, there’s a very specific definition for what is and what isn’t dental negligence. In fact, the treatment provided to you by a dental care professional has to be below the acceptable standard of care that you should expect from a dentist, dental hygienist, or any other dental health care provider and the treatment has to cause serious personal injuries to you; otherwise, it can’t be considered malpractice. In cases where individuals seek compensation for dental malpractice that doesn’t meet these requirements, their cases are dismissed.
How to Sue a Dentist
To sue a dentist for medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury as a result of a dentist’s provision of sub-standard care. To establish proof when suing a dentist, you will need to prove these four principles: Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.
Though there are numbers of adverse symptoms of dental malpractice, you must consult your legal attorney and specify your conditions and concerns to evaluate your possible claims.
What To Know About Dental Negligence Lawsuits
One of the most important defenses in a dental malpractice case is proper documentation. The patient’s dental record must contain a clear chronology of events, future treatment plans, and all the important communication between the dentist and patient. Comprehensive documentation also includes:
- A copy of the written informed consent for any procedures that were done
- A clear record of the patient’s history
- A clear treatment plan (including documentation explaining the reason for any treatment for which the patient has been billed), and
- Notes were written at or near the time of the patient’s treatment.
Keep in mind that many people will examine the dental record if there is a lawsuit. Missing pages, inconsistencies, or unclear documentation will be problematic for the defense.
Commonly dental malpractice lawsuits arise from the following:
- Anesthesia Complications
- Failure to Diagnose Oral Diseases or Cancers
- Injuries to Oral Nerves
- Complications with Bridges and Crowns
- Tooth Extraction Problems
- Root Canal Injuries
- Complications from Novocain
- Wrongful Death
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10 Dental Negligence Case Examples
Here are 10 dental negligence cases that can help you determine if you’re a victim of dental medical negligence:
Case #1: Extractions
In the infection requiring hospitalization subset, all patients were hospitalized, and of these, eight patients died from the infections. In the severed nerve subset, the injuries were permanent and the dentists involved did not refer or follow up the nerve injuries. In the sinus perforation subset, the dentists neither diagnosed nor referred the patient for treatment of the perforations. One perforation was due to a bur perforating the sinus. The bur fractured and was left in the sinus with no referral or attempt at retrieval. Lack of diagnosis and treatment also existed with the mandibular fractures and TMJ injuries. Of the defendants, 51 were general dentists and 12 were oral surgeons.
Case #2: Endodontic Procedures
The second most common alleged negligence was due to endodontic procedures. Of the above negligence claims due to endodontic procedures, all of the defendants were general dentists. The complications included instruments left in canals, nerve and sinus perforations, air embolisms, and life-threatening infections, including four fatalities. Of the life-threatening infections, seven were due to brain abscesses, and one due to osteomyelitis. Of these eight infections, four were fatalities and four resulted in irreversible brain damage.
Case #3: Dental Implants
In the implant loss subset, two to 10 implants were lost, and treatment planning was alleged to be deficient to non-existent. The patient with the post-operative infection succumbed to the infection. In 24 of the negligence claims involving dental implant surgery, the defendants were general dentists, and one was a periodontist.
Case #4: Substandard Crown, Bridge Treatment.
It is difficult to categorize this group into subsets because most of the treatments included numerous complaints including open margins, overhanging restorations, and poor occlusion. All cases involved multiple units or “full-mouth reconstructions.” There was a universal lack of treatment planning in these cases. All defendants were general dentists.
Case #5: Periodontal Disease
There were 19 cases of failure to diagnose or treat periodontal disease in a timely fashion. All defendants were general dentists. In the majority of these cases, X-rays were not taken routinely, and periodontal probings were rarely or never recorded.
Case #6: Orthodontics
There were 18 total cases of orthodontic treatment complications and 14 cases in the subset of root resorption. Numerous teeth per patient were seriously affected and the majority of these teeth were lost. Radiographs were not routinely taken. Of the treating dentists in the category, six were orthodontists and 12 were general dentists. The remaining four cases involved TMJ injury.
Case #7: Dental Anesthesia Complications
This category tied with extractions for the most fatalities. There were 12 claims with eight patient fatalities. Of the eight deaths, three were children. Of the defendants, four were oral surgeons, two were pedodontists, and six were general dentists.
Case #8: Dental Infections
There were 11 malpractice claims under this category. The infections resulted in four fatalities, two brain abscesses, and one case of septic arthritis. Nine defendants were general dentists, and two were oral surgeons.
Case #9: Dental Injections
Of these 10 cases, seven affected the lingual nerve; three involved the inferior alveolar nerve. In all cases, the dentists allegedly were made aware they had hit the nerve, but did not withdraw the needle and reinject as suggested in the dental literature. In addition, the dentists neither followed up the injuries nor referred them to be followed. Seven defendants were general dentists, and three were oral surgeons.
Case #10: Adverse Drug Reactions
In all five cases, the drug administered was contraindicated by the patient’s medical history. There were two fatalities in this category. One defendant was a periodontist; the other four were general dentists.
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The Philadelphia dental malpractice attorneys at Ginsburg & Associates Trial Lawyers are proud to provide knowledgeable guidance, customized legal services, and dedicated representation to the residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If you’ve been injured by a negligent dental professional, turn our trial-tested legal team today.
Our attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of this multifaceted legal process and can effectively guide you through each step of proving your dental malpractice case. During your appointment, we can discuss your case, explain your legal options, and evaluate the injury-related expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the dentist’s act of negligence. After thoroughly investigating the incident, we can construct a personalized case strategy that reflects your unique goals and legal objectives.
Contact our attorneys at (215) 392-6616 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.
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