Although medical malpractice is well known and continues to be a crisis in the country, dental malpractice occurs in the category of its own and does not generally reflect the trend going on in the healthcare market in general. Although dental malpractice does exist, insurance companies only write policies for dental malpractice if they also write policies for physicians. Still, if you find yourself the patient of a dentist whom you think has committed dental malpractice, you may be in need of a dental malpractice lawyer.
Dental malpractice claim reports have remained pretty steady over recent years, as opposed to medical malpractice claims which continue to rise every year. While the awards by the courts for dental malpractice are less than medical malpractice, this is mainly due to the usually non-life-threatening nature of dental malpractice. In short, dental malpractice occurs when improper treatment or services have been performed, which causes injury, possibly permanent injury to the lips, jaw, tongue, or the surrounding nerves. It also happens when the dentist fails to properly diagnose signs of oral cancer. If anesthetics are applied improperly, this can also cause injury, or in severe cases, even death.
A patient has a right to expect professional and accurate diagnosis and treatment when they visit a medical professional, either a doctor or a dentist. If the dentist does not meet that responsibility, there may be grounds for a dental malpractice lawsuit. Not every little thing that a dentist does wrong may warrant a lawsuit, but if the injury is severe or permanent, you may wish to consider a dental malpractice lawyer to review it, who can advise you as to whether you have grounds to pursue it further or not.
Most seriously, a dental malpractice case can result from a patient’s death as a result of dental procedure complications. For example, anesthesia may be improperly administered, or an infection can take hold because it was not properly treated.
Oral surgery is covered here as well, where the potential for permanent damage is typically even greater, especially damage to facial or tongue nerves, and possibly even the tongue itself. If this occurs, there can be a severe loss of sensation which may include difficulty in talking, swallowing, and/or eating.
Patients can also be injured from dental extractions, or a dentist may remove a healthy tooth by mistake when he or she meant to extract a decayed or otherwise damaged tooth. This can be serious, because unnecessary tooth loss can lead to other complications. In some cases, dental malpractice occurs when a dentist fails to do something such as to diagnose and treat periodontal disease or oral cancer. Still another malpractice situation can occur if a dentist performs treatment to which the patient did not consent.
This can unfortunately occur in children as well as adults. Both dentists and orthodontists are supposed to present their patients with options and alternatives. Sometimes they will do tooth removal instead of braces for straightening teeth, which is much more radical and can lead to TMJ syndrome or persistent headaches.
If you feel you have been a victim of dental malpractice or if you are the representative of someone who has been, it may be in your best interests to contact a dental malpractice lawyer. He or she can help you determine whether or not you have a case, depending on the cause of the malpractice and what if any permanent injury was suffered. He or she can also discuss any options you have in pursuing a claim against the dentist in question.