According to the 2018 Medical Malpractice Annual Report, there were 361 claims between 2013 and 2017. Within the same period, about $16 million was paid in claims for dental malpractice lawsuits. One of the cases involved a dentist who performed a root canal on a patient, but a nerve was injured during the procedure. Consequently, the patient has experienced pain since then. The dental practice was sued for $2.5 million, but the jury awarded damages of $4.5 million in 2015. This is the severity of dental malpractice. Here are five common dentistry malpractice lawsuits.
1. Common Dentistry Malpractice Lawsuits from Nerve Injury
There is an extensive network of nerves and nerve endings in the mouth. So, when you are working on a patient’s teeth or gums, practicing utmost care is part of the job. But when you fail to exercise reasonable care, there is a high likelihood that you might damage some nerves.
And because the client will feel pain after the procedure is done, they will know that something is wrong. Further consultations with another dentist and a legal professional can result in a dentistry lawsuit.
2. Common Dentistry Malpractice Lawsuits from Negative Side Effects of Drugs
Some patients experience an adverse reaction to certain medications. This is normally indicated in their medical history, and you can access the information from their medical records. But if you provide the patient with a medication that causes an adverse reaction, and you were aware of this, you are deemed liable for the reaction.
What’s more, when pain medication is injected in wrong quantities or to the wrong mouth area, the patient can experience damage to their nerves or mouth. Also, it can lead to the death of the patient in some situations. Hence, the dentist can face a dentistry lawsuit for the effects of improper use of anesthesia.
3. Common Dentistry Malpractice Lawsuits from Perforation of Sinuses
Dental errors not only impact the mouth but also impact the surrounding regions such as sinuses. Sinuses can be perforated during the extraction of a tooth from the upper jaw. But with a dental X-ray, a dentist can tell whether there is a risk of such a perforation. Some patients have their teeth far from the sinus membrane, while others have their teeth close.
In case the perforation is minor, it will heal on its own. But you have to inform the patient so that they can be careful not to dislodge the clot that seals the hole. However, if the perforation is serious, the patient could need instant surgery. Otherwise, the perforation can get infected, and the patient can have a hard time eating and using a straw, which can lead to a dentistry lawsuit.
4. Common Dentistry Malpractice Lawsuits from Dangerous Infection
Sometimes, you can neglect the equipment and tools you use for dental procedures. As a result, there will be a high risk of infection to your patients. This is especially the case for dental procedures that involve cutting into tissue and teeth.
Other times, a piece of equipment can break, and pieces get left inside sockets post-extraction, which can result in a severe infection. In such a case, you will be liable for any hospitalization and complications resulting from the infection.
5. Malpractice Lawsuits from Bridge and Crown Restoration
There can hardly be a dentistry malpractice lawsuit due to damage to one bridge or crown. But if you don’t plan well to restore multiple crowns and bridges, there is a chance the patient might end up with poor alignment.
Moreover, lack of sufficient experience and planning can lead to the use of devices with the wrong size, width, or density for the mouth of the patient. So, the patient will experience discomfort when chewing, and they can file for a dentistry lawsuit.
What’s the Conclusion?
Dentists are highly trained professionals, and it takes between six and seven years to become a licensed dentist. But if you are a specialist, you need two additional years of residency after doctoral training. Despite the intense training, you can end up making costly mistakes that can lead to a dentistry lawsuit. There are many reasons why you can make a mistake during a procedure, including negligence, lack of enough experience, exhaustion, and others.
Now, because you know mistakes happen and you cannot avoid them, the best you can do is anticipate them. You can then safeguard yourself and your practice by taking medical malpractice insurance. Hence, this will ensure that you are covered against claims made against your practice. So, safeguard yourself by taking a dentistry malpractice insurance cover!