What Are Common Reasons for Filing Dental Malpractice Cases?
Dental malpractice occurs less frequently than other types of medical malpractice. However, it does still happen and can sometimes cause severe, long-term injuries.
If you have suffered injuries from a dental procedure or treatment, you may have a dental malpractice claim.
The information below explains dental malpractice and some of the most common causes and can help you understand if you have a valid claim.
What Is Dental Malpractice?
Dentists, like doctors and other medical professionals, are obligated to perform their job according to a particular set of standards. This standard of care requires a dentist to perform his or her job with reasonable diligence.
A dentist must use the same level of care when treating patients as would another dentist under the same or similar circumstances. A dentist commits malpractice when he or she fails to meet this standard of care.
To succeed in a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must:
- Demonstrate the defendant’s required standard of care,
- Prove that the defendant breached that standard of care, and
- Show that the defendant’s breach of care caused the defendant’s injuries.
Proving these elements can be difficult and often requires expert testimony, extensive documentation of a patient’s treatment, and opinions from other qualified professionals.
How Common Is Dental Malpractice?
Dentistry is considered a medical service, and cases of dental malpractice fall within the broader category of medical malpractice. Only one out of seven medical malpractice claims involves dental malpractice.
Although dental malpractice is rare, it does still happen. Negligence during dental procedures can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications. Often, these health problems result from common procedures and avoidable mistakes.
Common Reasons for Filing a Claim
Dental malpractice happens any time a dentist fails to meet the required standard of care and his or her negligence causes harm to a patient. Dental negligence occurs more often during routine procedures or treatments than from complicated procedures or surgery.
Some common reasons for filing dental malpractice cases include:
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis,
- Failing to refer a patient to a specialist,
- Delaying treatment,
- Inappropriate treatment such as performing a procedure on the wrong tooth,
- Choosing the wrong type of treatment, and
- Performing a procedure inadequately or incorrectly.
Keep in mind that a successful dental malpractice claim requires proving that the dentist’s actions violated the standard of care. A dentist may delay treatment or choose a type of treatment that is ultimately incorrect.
However, the dentist’s actions qualify as negligence only if they are inconsistent with accepted professional standards. Further, the negligence must directly relate to or cause the patient’s injuries.
Specific Examples of Dental Malpractice
Many claims arise from specific, common procedures that lead to injuries or other harm to a patient. Knowing dental malpractice case examples can help you determine if you have a dental malpractice claim.
Extracting teeth is one of the most common dental procedures and improper extraction is one of the most common types of dental malpractice claims.
Examples of improper extractions include:
- Extracting the wrong tooth,
- Unnecessary extraction of healthy teeth, and
- Extractions that cause nerve or gum damage.
Improperly performed tooth extractions may lead to infections and require additional treatment or procedures. Infections can cause severe long-term oral health problems. Patients may also suffer long-lasting or permanent nerve damage.
Improper placement of crowns and bridges
Common examples of this type of dental malpractice can include unnecessary recommendations of crown and bridge placements on healthy teeth. If another dentist would not have recommended the crown placement, a dentist’s decision to do so may constitute negligence.
Failure to diagnose oral disease or cancer
When a patient shows symptoms of oral disease or cancer that a dentist would typically recognize, the dentist should either recommend treatment or perform further testing.
If X-rays or other imaging show signs of oral disease or cancer, failing to diagnose the disease may qualify as dental negligence if another dentist could have recognized and diagnosed the disease.
Failure to provide proper post-procedure treatment
Failing to provide appropriate treatment recommendations or perform further tests may be grounds for dental malpractice. If a patient complains of pain after a procedure and a dentist does not adequately treat or address that pain, the dentist’s failure to act may be malpractice.
Prescribing the wrong drug or the wrong dosage
Dentists must carefully review a patient’s medical history, age, size, and any other factors relevant to prescribing medicine. Failing to properly prescribe the correct drug or dosage can cause significant, possibly life-threatening health effects.
Contact a Qualified Dental Malpractice Attorney
If you suffered injuries or medical complications due to a dental procedure or treatment, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Filing a dental malpractice claim can be complicated and time-consuming. A skilled dental malpractice attorney can help you gather information and help you build a strong case.
The lawyers at Dawson & Albritton, P.A. have represented hundreds of injured people and have won millions in damages for their clients. Our dedicated staff will answer your questions and provide you with the support and advice you need. Contact our offices at 252-752-2485 or fill out an online form today.