Understanding Dental Malpractice Cases

Posted on: February 21, 2019

What is a Dental Malpractice Case?

Dental malpractice is a kind of medical malpractice which refers to an incident when a patient sustains an injury due to the negligence or medical errors of medical professionals, specifically dental professionals and staff. These dental professionals can refer to dentists, oral surgeons, or dental hygienists. Like any medical practitioner, these professionals are also responsible for performing or advising the proper treatment expected from them and are liable for any health and safety errors incurred on patients. Unfortunately, these safety errors do occur, with patients sustaining personal injury which may result in wrongful death.

If these dental mishaps occur due to negligence, then victims have a dental malpractice case on their hands and may opt to charge the dental professional at fault.

Elements of Dental Malpractice Cases

To fully understand if a dental malpractice scenario is eligible for suit in court, the aspects of what makes up a dental malpractice case must be discussed. Victims must prove the following for their claim to be considered as dental malpractice:

Dentist-Patient Relationship

The dentist-patient relationship is an element of a dental malpractice case that is easily and almost automatically established. This is because anytime a dental professional is asked and gives his or her professional advice and intends for the patient to rely on it, the relationship has already been confirmed, whether in a formal setting such as a scheduled consultation or during an informal scenario such a casual conversation. Furthermore, when a patient uses the said advice to his detriment, the dental professional who gave his or her advice is held liable for it.

Standard of Care

The dental standard of care, as with the general medical standard of care, means that a healthcare professional must do what other professionals would have done in a similar situation. In this case, dental practitioners are expected to perform the defined standard dental practices that any other similarly trained dental professional would have done.

Breach of Standard of Care

A breach of the acceptable standard of care must be proven which means proving that the accused dental professional has indeed caused or has worsened an injury because of the neglect for the proper dental standard of care. A similarly trained practitioner may be called into court to testify to prove the claims and establish whether or not the accused was at fault.

Injury Extent

The severity of a victim’s injury must also be considered. This is necessary to assess the time and expenses required to file a lawsuit. If the injuries sustained were minor, then it may not be worth it to take the claims to court. This aspect considers pain and suffering, actual injuries, and lost wages as critical factors in determining whether or not the allegations are enough to merit a malpractice case.

However, suing a hospital is not as simple as it seems even if the evidence of negligence is visibly glaring. To be fully informed of how to sue a medical institution properly, a plaintiff or a victim of a medical malpractice suit must have proper knowledge of malpractice cases. Plaintiffs must also have a clear understanding of what medical malpractice is.

Dental Malpractice Case Examples

To identify whether or not what you or a loved one has experienced is a form of dental malpractice, one may consider the following dental malpractice examples:

Failure in Diagnosis

Not all medical malpractice errors take place during surgery. Medical malpractice can occur as early as a patient’s routine checkup. In situations when there is proof of a complication that needs treatment and your dentist has overlooked it, then he or she is liable for medical malpractice through negligence. Ruining a diagnosis impedes a patient for seeking treatment and in turn could lead to worse health complications.

Misdiagnosis

In other cases, a dental professional may already see complications but incorrectly diagnoses it which leads to a prescription or operation that does not solve or even worsen the problem. This oversight leads to the patient needing continuous treatment and enduring constant, unnecessary pain.

Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis can also be just as debilitating as a misdiagnosis or a failure to give diagnosis since it can also lead to more severe consequences. When a dentist has already seen a problem but has failed to notify the patient of his or her dental situation, it may develop into something even worse without the patient knowing its dangers.

Collateral Damage

A dental surgeon may have caused an injury that may have very well been preventable. These include unnecessary lacerations during tooth extraction, severe nerve damage, or injury to the jaw and teeth.

Surgical Procedure Errors

Surgical procedure errors such as extracting the wrong tooth can also be considered dental malpractice. This scenario may also occur during root canal operations of teeth that are otherwise healthy.

Anesthesia Errors

As with most invasive operations, patients are treated with the appropriate amount of anesthetics according to the patient’s comfort and safety. However, there are instances wherein too little, or too much anesthesia was administered to the patient. Both cases can lead to severe injuries such as heart complications and nerve damage.

Defective or Contaminated Equipment

The use of sterilized and properly functioning medical equipment is a fundamental part of the standard of care. Using defective or contaminated equipment can lead to illnesses and infections, and can be considered as medical malpractice.

Filing a Complaint with Dental Malpractice Lawyers

To properly seek damages and compensation for dental malpractice incurred on you or a loved one, employing a dental malpractice lawyer on your side as legal counsel and representation is the wisest decision. California malpractice cases require vast and expert personal injury law knowledge and handling these types of cases on your own may end up serving you more harm than good. Seek legal advice from expert dental malpractice attorneys who are well-versed in California medical malpractice laws to know what you are up against.

Mesriani Law Group has decades of experience and employs a talented roster of personal injury lawyers ready to take on and win dental malpractice claims for their clients. Having already won over 100 million dollars in damages for their clients, dental lawyers well-versed in California dental malpractice cases will be on your side.