The most common dental error or act of professional malpractice is improper performance. Forty five percent of malpractice claims will involve some type of performance or dental procedure or dentist personal technique or execution of a procedure that resulted in an injury to the patient. Diagnostic error is the second most prevalent type of injurious dental incident and it historically has been difficult for the dentist to defend. Common resultant injuries involve tooth loss, infection, fractured jaws, facial scarring, nerve damage and Temporomandibular Joint injury.
An extremely expensive and painful example of this type of dental error is placing dental implants into the mouth of a person who is not healthy enough or without enough healthy bone for them to correctly implant and subsequently the implants fail leaving the patient with a bill and no implanted teeth.
A dentist may be liable for dental malpractice if he or she improperly used a formaldehyde based root canal filling material which caused injury to a patient.
A severe example of this kind of failure to diagnose is where a patient has periodontal disease and the dentist fails to diagnose and treat the condition causing the patient to lose all of his teeth.
Dentists are required to develop and follow a treatment plan concerning each patient’s dental health.
This type of dental error usually will involve some kind of post surgical infection and loss of tooth, surrounding tissues and possibly injury to the jaw.
This kind of error is common and often involves improperly diagnosing gingivitis, periodontal disease, disorders of the hard tissues of the teeth or cavities, disorder of the dental pulp and periapical tissues and malignant neoplasms or cancer of the mouth ofter resulting in .
An example of this kind of negligence is a situation where a dentist placed several amalgam fillings in a patient’s mouth and a week later pieces of mercury filling is found left in the gum tissue. Mercury is a toxic material that results in toxic reactions if ingested.
Removal of a tooth, or multiple teeth, without getting patient consent clearly is an example of this kind of negligence.
An example of this kind of error would be not removing an abscessed tooth to thereby allow a severe infection of the jaw to continue untreated and unabated.
An example of a contraindicated procedure preformed would be removing a healthy tooth or teeth by negligently misreading an x-ray or removal order.
The legal community appears to be taking an increased interest in pursuing dental malpractice claims. Injured patients can now easily find legal assistance with a claim by simply conducting in internet search which will likely yield hundreds of law practices actively soliciting plaintiffs in dental malpractice actions. There are a number of dentists who are also attorneys specializing in dental malpractice claims.
The payment ratio for dental claims is significantly higher than that for physician malpractice claims. It seems that 41.1 percent of dental claims result in paid indemnity to patients, compared to 31.4 percent of medical claims resulting in payment. This would indicate that plaintiff attorneys are more successful when pursuing general dental malpractice claims. Also, claims against general dentists and oral surgeons have two of the shortest average time intervals from malpractice complaint filing date to case settlement date, approximately 20.8 months and 22.7 months, respectively.