When one hears the term medical malpractice, one may not associate it with dental malpractice. Dental malpractice occurs when a dental professional does not reach the standard of care both state regulations and professional guidelines mandate these professionals meet. A patient may experience dental malpractice when either a dental professional does not properly diagnose or treat a dental condition and, as a result of that failure, leads the patient to experience a new or additional injury. Dental malpractice may also occur when the dental professional in question fails to act in a professional or legal manner.
When this failure to meet the standard of care occurs, patients are often injured. Injuries may include, but are not limited to, chronic and severe pain, loss of taste, a wrong diagnosis, unnecessary extractions, failure to diagnose a condition, and loss of teeth as well and bone support. Some common forms of dental malpractice include: failure to monitor a patient’s oral disease, negligent dental work, dental surgical errors, delayed treatment of oral disease, and failure to obtain informed consent.
Dental malpractice cases are not easy cases to win for plaintiffs. Such cases require in-depth investigations, as well as opinions from other experts in that field. A study done by the ADA found that more than half of the settlements in dental malpractice cases are less than $10,000. This is important because such an amount, more often than not, does not help plaintiff with attorney’s fees. The other factor making such cases difficult for plaintiffs to win is that insurance companies have attorneys that do such work on a daily basis, which intimidates plaintiffs from bringing such claims for fear of losing to such experienced individuals.
There are ways in which a patient can minimize the risk of experiencing dental malpractice. One way is to check the dentist’s disciplinary record before undergoing any type of procedure by that dentist. Any disciplinary transgressions are public information. Patients should also be on alert despite being referred to a dental professional by a friend. Look into what specialties that dentist is familiar with. A general dentist is not necessarily able to safely perform the same procedures a specialty dentist is able to perform. Third, it is very important patients go to a dental professional who they feel they can have open conversations with. Patients should not be afraid to ask their dentist questions or call the dentist if they are experiencing any pain or discomfort after a procedure.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.