Like all medical professionals, dentists and other dental care providers have a high level of responsibility to treat their patients with compassion and care. However, like all medical professionals, dental care professionals also make mistakes occasionally. In some instances, this could lead to injury, pain, and suffering to a dental patient; this could also pave the way for a dental malpractice lawsuit as well.
What Exactly Is Dental Malpractice?
Since malpractice is a legal term, there’s a very specific definition for what is and what isn’t dental malpractice. In fact, the treatment provided to you by a dental care professional has not just to be below the acceptable standard of care that you should expect from a dentist, dental hygienist, or any other dental health care provider but also has to cause serious personal injuries to you; otherwise, it can’t be considered malpractice and in cases where individuals seek compensation for dental malpractice that doesn’t meet these requirements, their cases are dismissed.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that dental malpractice doesn’t occur. It’s rare – only one out of every seven medical malpractice cases come from dental malpractice – but it does happen. Since dental malpractice is a form of negligence, it’s only when dentists and their staff don’t work as diligently as they need to to ensure their patients are cared for properly. These instances usually result from mistakes made by dental professionals – mistakes that could have been avoided if they had been more attentive to the patient’s needs and condition.
Common Causes of Dental Malpractice
Research has shown that many incidents that precipitate a dental malpractice claim aren’t involved procedures such as dental surgeries. In fact, one of the most common sources of medical negligence claims made against dentists is a complication brought about by an improperly done tooth extraction, often complicated by dentists and oral surgeons not providing the opportunity for informed consent from the patient or an absence of any proper referral protocols in the event of an injury during the extraction procedure.
One study found that out of more than 240 cases of dental malpractice, the most common types of alleged malpractice arose from extractions – 63 cases in all. Out of these, the most numerous incidents involved infections; in 23 cases of infection, all of which required hospitalization, eight of these cases were severe enough to lead to the death of the patient. Other injuries included in this subset are cases of severed nerves where the injury became permanent because the dentist failed to refer the patient to a specialist, extraction of the wrong teeth, fractured jaws, and perforations of the sinus cavity.
What Can You Do If You’re a Victim
If you are a victim of dental malpractice, or at least the details of your incident lead you to believe that you have a valid legal case against the dental care professionals that may have harmed you through their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation as a result of your injuries. Likewise, if a member of your family lost their life through an injury or a complication stemming from dental malpractice, you can seek compensation as a survivor. To determine if you do have a case, your first step should always be to consult with an experienced law firm or attorney that specializes in medical negligence cases in your state. Experienced dental malpractice lawyers are of course ideal, as they will have the expertise to bring a case against the dental professional that you suspect might have wronged you through their inattentiveness or their easily avoidable mistake.