Dentists can make mistakes just like any other doctor. This is called dental malpractice, which falls under the greater category of medical malpractice. Unlike regular medical malpractice, though, dental malpractice is harder to make a case for. When it comes to dental malpractice, a victim must prove that an injury was not only caused by the dentist failing to meet the medical standard of care, but also from mistakes caused by negligence.
In order to prove dental malpractice, a victim needs to establish duty, breach, causation, and damages in their case. Dental standards of care are regulated by the FDA, as stated in a Department of Health & Human Services report, which are considered a dentist’s duty. If the dentist or hygienist breaks those standards, they are considered to have breached their duty.
Causation is one of the most important factors in backing your case, which is proving the dentist or hygienist caused your injury, or damages. And any damages must be worse than just temporary pain and discomfort. Your injuries need to be on the more serious end in order to have a strong dental malpractice case. Because of these regulations, there aren’t as many instances of dental malpractice as you might think.
Does Dental Malpractice Happen Frequently?
Dental malpractice is a rare form of medical malpractice. In fact, only one of every seven medical malpractice cases are dental malpractice. There were around 8,500 medical malpractice claims in 2016, as reported by True Cost of Health Care. This means that around 1,000 of those cases were for dental malpractice that year. Pennsylvania alone had about 10% of those cases. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, 1,321 dentists and dental hygienists were involved in dental malpractice suits that year.
These numbers might sound low compared to regular medical malpractice cases. The numbers for dental malpractice cases are probably low because conditions have to be near-perfect in order to file a claim, as detailed above. So even though dental malpractice definitely happens, it’s not reported and carried out in a case as frequently as it should be.
What Are Some Examples of Dental Malpractice?
Even though a dental malpractice case might be hard to make, you should still be aware of what qualifies for a claim. In general, if a dentist was negligent, not attentive to your needs, made a mistake, or didn’t properly look after their staff who provided your care, then you could possibly have a dental malpractice claim.
If you still have questions about what qualifies, here are some specific scenarios that are considered dental malpractice:
- Chipped or fractured tooth
- Tooth extractions
- Gum damage
- Nerve injury
- Infection from equipment or unsanitary office
- Prolonged treatment
- Failure to diagnose conditions
- Improper administration of anesthesia
If you’ve experienced dental malpractice, you’ll want to contact a medical malpractice lawyer who is on your side and will fight hard for your case. The pain and discomfort from a botched dental procedure can be debilitating both physically and emotionally. You deserve justice so that you can get back to a pain-free life. Contact us at Shrager & Sachs for a free consultation so that we can help you build your claim.