Like doctors, dentists may sometimes provide negligent care to the extent that their patients are caused serious harm as a result. A recent review of dental malpractice cases, in which data from the past 12 years was evaluated, is illustrative of the most commonly occurring problems.
According to DentistryIQ, the allegations arise from a review of 242 malpractice cases alleging dental negligence. Extraction errors leading to serious, life-threatening infections, permanent nerve damage and other problems accounted for the largest number of cases. Eight of the patients whose cases arose in this subcategory died as a result of their injuries, while all required hospitalization. A total of 51 dentists and 12 endodontists made up the defendants for negligence in the extraction category.
Endodontic procedures in which instruments left in canals or in which perforations occurred to nerves or sinuses made up the second largest category. Four patients for the cases in this category lost their lives. All of the defendants were general dentistry practitioners.
There were a number of other types of negligence leading to lawsuits, including failing to diagnose such things as periodontal disease or oral cancer, substandard bridge replacement or crowns, negligent use of anesthesia, administration of drugs contraindicated by the patient’s documented medical history and others.
While people may not first think of the dental office as a place in which a medical error may cause an emergency or serious personal injury, dental malpractice does occur, and when it does, people may be seriously injured or even die as a result. Dentists owe a duty of care to their patients, and when that duty is breached, causing actual harm to their patients, the injured victims may be able to recover damages for their losses through a medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help.
Source: Dentistry IQ, “A Review of Dental Negligence,” Crystal Baxter, Dec. 31, 2014