Articles Posted in Dental Malpractice

CBS Local recently reported on a dentist from the Smile Implant Center who is being brought before the state’s dental board for not following up with patients, along with other more serious malpractice complaints. The former Illinois practitioner had his license revoked in our state before going to California in 2002. In one instance this May, a negligence lawsuit was filed against the doctor for the death of a patient. This case provides us with a prime example for an overview of dental malpractice today.

From the more simple forms of malpractice like not following up with patients, to the most egregious (a patient dying due to a negligent act), patients should be aware of the typical types of malpractice that can occur as a result of your dental visit. If you have been injured or suffered harm in some way, there may be compensation available to you.

However, you may be unsure about what dental malpractice is, and what type of dentist behavior is applicable for a claim.

Stress over going to the dentist is one of the most common fears among children and adults alike. There is something inherently scary about having your mouth poked and proded, and this leads many to put off trips to the office. Of course, in reality, most dental professionals are incredibly caring, thoughful, and gentle workers who do everything they can to make the situation as stress free as possible. But what happens when that trust is violated?

While most do not think of dentists when hearing the word “malpractice,” in truth, dentists are just as capable as medical doctors of violating reasonable safety standards and causing undue harm. In those situations, the affected patients can pursue legal accountability.

Dental Malpractice

When community members hear the word “malpractice” the mind almost always jumps to medical doctors and mistakes made by those working in the hospital. But malpractice cases can just as easily stem from misconduct by dentists and dental hygienists. There is often less serious ailments among dental patients, and so it is easy to overlook the fact that severe harm can still befall those who do not receive proper dental care. That is particularly true for the most vulnerable patients-young children. Serious injury and even death is sometimes possible when those working at dentists offices or orgal surgical centers fail to act appropriately.

Dental Malpractice – Wrongful Death

For example, San Antonio Express News reported last week on developments in a dental malpractice trial involving the tragic death of a twenty two month old child. The boy was just shy of his second birthday when he went in for what was supposed to be a routine dental procedure.

Too much radiation can have health consequences-almost everyone has heard the warning. Yet most people assume that dangerous radiation exposure comes only in unique situations such as by working in factories where certain chemicals are used or following a nuclear plant meltdown. Those assumptions may be misguided, as a new alert in World Wire recently issued by a local doctor reminds community members that dangerous exposure can come in much more innocuous situations.

As the American Cancer Society explains, radiation is essentially the emission of energy from any source. There are many different kinds of radiation, some more harmful than others. Each exists along a spectrum of high-energy to low-energy. In addition, that radiation can be either ionizing or non-ionizing. In general, it is only ionizing radiation that can cause cancer, because it involves high-frequency radiation that is strong enough to damage DNA cells. These potentially dangerous forms of radiation include Gamma rays and x-rays.

Of course, x-rays are something that most residents experience from time to time, as they are used for diagnostic purposes in a variety of medical settings. On many occasions this x-ray radiation exposure is a necessary evil, as the benefits of the exposure in treating a certain condition outweigh the harm that may be caused by increased radiation exposure. Yet, some doctors are questioning that balancing test in certain situations-such as in the dentist’s chair. The new alert spread by the local doctor specifically warns that unnecessary dental x-rays may lead to a significant increase in cancer risk in patients.

Many dental facilities currently take x-rays of patient mouths as part of routine checkups or when registering new patients. These x-rays are unnecessary and potentially dangerous, particularly for children. Several reports have found that the thyroid gland is the most radiosensitive organ in children. This means that radiation exposure in the head and neck may pose particularly high risks for the unsuspecting youngsters. That harm is even more possible when new “cone –beam CT scanners” are used. These new medical devices offer detailed images for dentists, but they emit much higher levels of radiation, because they are continually emitting x-rays as they travel around the patient’s mouth. The doctor issuing the release summarized the situation by noting, “Not surprisingly, the incidence of thyroid cancer has escalated by 168% since 1975. The past and continuing practice of routine dental radiation, especially in children, is flagrant dental malpractice, if not criminal.”

In the legal context, it is often difficult (but not impossible) to have overexposure of radiation as the basis for a medical malpractice suit in the event that a patient develops cancer and believes it is linked to this sort of radiation exposure. That is because the negligence law which forms the basis of most medical malpractice lawsuits often requires strong evidence to prove the “cause” element-whereby the actions of a certain defendant were shown to cause the harm. Actions that increase the risk of harm to the patient may also be uses to prove the “causal” element of the suit. Yet, those increased risk cases are usually related to more direct events-like a delayed diagnosis that increased the risk of certain harm befalling a patient. In the end, it is likely important for all local residents to simply remain very aware of these radiation concerns and to work with medical professionals closely to minimize all exposure.
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A West Virginia woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her dentist for the substandard and harmful care he provided two years ago. The West Virginia Record reported yesterday on the suit that Linda Johnson filed against the Charleston Dental Association.

In January 2008, Dr. Ernest N. Pennington (a member of the dental group named in the suit) took impressions of Mrs. Johnson’s mouth. The impressions were preparatory work for a bridge which Mrs. Johnson intended to have placed in her mouth.

However, the material used for the impressions caused severe complications in Mrs. Johnson’s mouth. Her gums were eventually infected because of the material. The infection in turn had negative effects on the newly installed bridge. The bridge did not fit properly, which lead to exposed tooth roots and extreme pain.

Fox News recently reported on a large-scale example of medical negligence that has put thousands of members of our armed forces at risk.

Several weeks ago the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis notified over 1,800 veterans who had been provided care at the facility that they may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Each of the armed service members had been sent to the Medical Center to receive dental care.

The potential contamination was caused by negligent dental technicians at the facility who hand-washed certain equipment instead of putting them into the special-made cleaning machines. This process is contrary to protocol and makes the equipment susceptible to contamination, in this case with forms of hepatitis and HIV. The technicians were guilty of sacrificing the care of their patients all in an effort to save time.Cleaning and sterilizing equipment is one of the basic components of proper medical care.

A woman’s dental surgery has spurred a medical malpractice suit. The lawsuit claims that the oral surgeon left a drill bit in the victim’s right maxillary sinus. This left her with dizziness, pain, nosebleeds and a sinus infection. The medical malpractice lawsuit named the oral surgeon and the health group in the suit. The oral surgeon had used a burr to separate her teeth and make the extraction easier. However, somewhere in the surgery the burr became detached and lost. When the victim came back to the dentist’s office he stated that she was feeling normal pain. She later had to go to the hospital to receive medical attention for the dental error. Doctors performed a magnetic scan in order to find the drill bit which only caused it to move further within her head. The drill bit has now been removed but she still may suffer from nickel poisoning. This type of dental error could have implications on the victim’s health for years to come. To read more about the dental malpractice lawsuit, please click the link.

According to, a Chicago man has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against his dentist after he claims he underwent an unnecessary root canal and extraction. According to the dental malpractice lawsuit, the man visited a doctor complaining of pain in his 20th tooth. The dentist subsequently performed a root canal on the tooth, but the pain came back. He then planned to extract the tooth and replace it with an implant. A year later, the man went back to the dentist with a fracture in the 19th tooth. It was discovered that the source of the man’s pain and the root canal and extraction of the 20th tooth was unnecessary. The two count medical malpractice suit also accuses the doctor of lack of informed consent and seeks $50,000 plus legal costs. To learn more about the Chicago dental malpractice, lawsuit please click the link.

An autistic young man, who was unable to speak, entered a Children’s hospital for some routine dental work. The hospital made the reckless medical error of using a painkiller-laced patch though his procedure. This type of patch is usually only meant to ameliorate chronic pain in cancer patients and others. The victim was discharged and found dead in his bed the following morning. The medical examiner stated that he had died from a drug overdose caused by the fentanyl patch. This family alleges he should have never even been given the fentanyl patch, nevertheless the highest dose available. The hospital has already admitted they committed medical error in prescribing the drug to the young man. The drug now requires a pain-management specialist’s sign off before it is administered. According to the Federal Drug Administration, wrong prescription of the fentanyl patch has become a persistent problem across the country during recent years, leading to numerous reports of death and life-threatening injuries. The report shows that doctors have inappropriately prescribed the fentanyl patch to patients for acute pain following surgery, for headaches, occasional or mild pain, when it should not be prescribed. The family feels a great deal of remorse considering the egregioius and preventable mistake that caused their son’s death. If you or a loved one has been wrongly prescribed fentanyl, please consult an Illinois lawyer. To read more about the wrongful death, please click the link.

A dental surgeon is charged with medical malpractice for allegedly erring while performing a procedural biopsy. The woman claims to have permanent nerve damage and loss of smile appearance from the dental malpractice. She also claims she can no longer smile without feeling pain. The woman’s plaintiff attorney has alleged the doctor used substandard care when performing her biopsy.

Read more about the dental malpractice case here.

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