There are potential risks going to the dentist just like going in to be treated by your doctor. Though both your dentist and doctor do their best to keep you safe while treating your ailment, mishaps can and do happen. While dental malpractice lawsuits are not heard about as much as medical malpractice, it does happen. According to an RD Magazine article, there are four areas where dental malpractice claims occur.
Most common areas of dental malpractice cases:
- Injury to the Patient- Dental patients can get injured in a variety of ways while in the dentist office: breakage of dental instruments, accidental cuts and scrapes by dental instruments and mouth hardware, the spilling of chemicals on the patient, ill-fitting crowns, bridges, dentures and braces and nerve and teeth damage are the most common injuries sustained by dental patients. While most of these injuries can be repaired and heal quickly, some lead to permanent damage.
- Failure to detect periodontal disease- While the detection of periodontal (or gum) disease is to be a standard part of the routine dental cleaning, some dentists inadvertently omit this important exam. This tends to happen more in busy practices where dentists don’t want their patients to wait too long to be seen.
- Failure to detect oral cancer- Just like the detection of periodontal disease is to be a standard procedure, the same is true for detecting oral cancer. Every dentist should do this oral cancer assessment for every patient each at every appointment. As for gum disease, this vital, potentially life-saving exam is sometimes omitted.
- Failure to update medical history- A medical history record is important for dentists to provide the best care to each patient. Many patients, however, see the filling out of a medical history record intrusive, complicated and burdensome. It was noted in the RD Magazine article that patients lack the adequate knowledge of medical conditions to identify whether or not they have them.
When Can I Sue My Dentist?
Sustaining an injury while receiving treatment by your dentist can happen in a number of ways. Below are the most common causes of injury on dental patients according to Injury Claim Coach:
- Wrongfully administered anesthesia
- Infections caused by improperly sterilized dental equipment
- Failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease
- Unwarranted delay in treatment
- Misdiagnosis of a dental condition
- Needless extraction of teeth
What is Needed to Sue Your Dentist?
Most people sue their dentist because of an injury they sustained. Successfully winning a dental malpractice case can be hard. For a better chance of willing your case, it is recommended to have four criteria or proving points met. These points come from a dental blog called Oral Answers:
- The existence of a duty – This means that you have to prove that the person who treated you is a dentist. As your dentist, he or she has the duty to care for you.
- A breach of the standard of care – The standard of care refers to what is “clinically acceptable and recommended given the circumstances.” To successfully win your case, you have to prove that the dentist breached these protocols.
- The dentist injured you – This is self-explanatory and is easy to prove as well.
- Proof that the violation of the standard of care caused the injury – Now you have to prove the connection between the dentist’s breach in the standard of care and the cause of your injury. This point is one of the tougher points to prove.
Though dental malpractice is not too common, you as a patient have a right to bring legal action against your dentist should you become seriously injured. It is highly recommended you hire an experienced, knowledgeable dental malpractice lawyer.