Dental malpractice occurs when a dentist fails to meet the standard of care when providing dental services to a patient, resulting in injuries or illness. Dental malpractice cases (learn more about malpractice cases) are similar to medical malpractice cases, except that they focus on dental work.
Just as in medical malpractice cases, dental malpractice involves three major elements. First, the dentist or dental staff must have provided care that fell short of the standard of care. Second, the failure to meet the standard of care must have caused an injury – either a physical harm, an illness, or both. Finally, the injury or harm caused must be something for which the injured person can be compensated, and the compensation must be measurable in some way – usually, by assigning a dollar amount.
The High Price of Negligence
Types of dental malpractice that may occur include the below:
- Failure to tell the patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives for a procedure
- Injuries to the nerves when removing teeth, performing root canals, installing implants, or doing other dental work
- Injuries to bone, muscle, and/or soft tissue when removing teeth, installing implants, or doing other dental work
- Infections caused by improper sterilization procedures or resulting from dental work
- Pulling the wrong teeth
- Puncturing the sinus cavity during a procedure
- Failure to administer anesthesia, pain medications, or antibiotics when needed, or misuse of these medications
- Failure to refer the patient to a specialist when needed
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose oral disease, cancer, or tumor
Some mistakes that occur during dental work are easily corrected and don’t cause lingering pain, injuries, or infections. However, other mistakes can cause serious injuries. Common injuries that may occur as the result of dental mistakes or malpractice include the following:
- Infections in the teeth, gums, and lips. Infections may spread to other body parts as well; an infection that enters the brain or bloodstream poses a risk of death.
- Systemic toxicity or breathing problems caused by anesthesia errors
- Permanent injuries to the nerves or muscles of the face, including those that control the lips, tongue, cheeks, and jaw.
- Heart attack or stroke.
- Misdiagnosis or failed diagnosis of terminal conditions, such as cancer.
Serious injuries caused by dental malpractice can carry hefty financial costs as well as personal ones. The cost of past and future medical bills, corrective dental work, and lost wages can all put a serious strain on a family’s finances. In addition, the pain and suffering caused by dental malpractice can also be significant, as can the loss of an injured family member’s ability to help around the house, raise children, or be a supportive spouse. When a dental injury causes harms like these, the injured person and/or the person’s family may be able to seek compensation from any dental staff whose negligence caused or contributed to the injury.
Seeking Compensation for Your Losses
At Farah & Farah, we recognize that the need for proper health care doesn’t end with your family doctor. For a free consultation, please contact us today. We are committed to protecting the rights of our clients.