When you think of the person responsible for a medical malpractice case, such as one involving a surgical error or misdiagnosis of a serious condition, you likely picture a stereotypical doctor. However, other medical providers can be just as guilty of malpractice. One that you may not have thought of is your dentist.
Dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons are all liable for showing neglect and causing injury to their patients. Visiting the dentist can be scary enough for some, but even worse is leaving the office with worse problems than you came in for.
Common causes of malpractice suits against dentists
Most of the causes of dental malpractice are the same as they are for any type of medical care, including:
- Failure to diagnose correctly, timely or at all
- Improper administration of anesthesia
- Occurrence of post-treatment infections
- Damage to healthy body parts
- Failure to refer you to a specialist
- Lack of informed consent
- Performance of an unnecessary procedure
Alternatively, your dentist may extract the wrong tooth or do so incorrectly. Complications may arise from putting in bridges, crowns, braces or other implants and devices. You may receive a drug you are allergic to or not receive follow-up care. Possible injuries include nerve damage, infection, allergic reaction; and loss of teeth, taste or function. Wrongful death can occur in severe cases.
Definition of malpractice
It is important to note that dissatisfaction with your results or a difficult recovery are not automatic grounds for suing your dentist. You must be able to prove that the dentist was directly responsible for your injury due to breaching the standard of care, even if it was unintentional.
A common reason for malpractice is not following protocol, whether due to laziness, hurry or insufficient training. Sometimes it can be as bad as coming to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whatever the reason, it is no excuse and warrants legal accountability.