Medical malpractice is not just a matter of malpractice by medical doctors. It also includes dental malpractice. Dental procedures can be risky, and dentists are responsible for protecting your health by adhering to an appropriate standard of care. This includes not only properly performing procedures, but not performing unnecessary and inappropriate procedures. Unfortunately some dentists find themselves motivated more by greed than by helping patients, and malpractice occurs.
Dentist in Indiana Accused of Doing Unnecessary Procedures
WISHTV reports that an Indiana dentist is accused of performing unnecessary dental procedures on patients. The dentist is facing potential discipline by the state board. The dentist is also accused of Medicaid fraud. There have been complaints since 2012 that the dentist has been performing the unnecessary procedures. For example, patients claim that he removed dozens of their teeth that did not in fact have to be removed. The current disciplinary proceedings focus on the Medicaid fraud rather than the malpractice allegations, but the dentist has faced malpractice suits in the past for this conduct.
Consumers have also filed complaints with the Indiana Attorney General. One such complaint includes allegations that the dentist wrongfully told patients that they would have heart attacks and die if they did not have their teeth removed. Patients were allegedly told that if they did not have many teeth removed that they would die from infections when in reality that simply was not true. Another complaint alleges that he removed 32 teeth from a patient’s mouth without obtaining the patient’s consent. Another former patient alleges that the dentist performed multiple fillings on him that subsequent dentists have told him were completely unnecessary and actually damaged some of his teeth.
How Common is Dental Malpractice?
It is impossible to know how common dental malpractice is. Many people expect going to the dentist to be a negative experience, so they may not realize when the treatment they are receiving is inadequate. Additionally, much malpractice may go unreported and unlitigated simply because people do not realize dental malpractice happens. In cases of general medical malpractice the negative impact may be more immediately recognizable as being the result of malpractice, particularly in the more severe cases.
There are however statistics available regarding the number of medical malpractice payments made. The National Practitioner Data Bank tracks these numbers. This is a federal information repository run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their numbers for dentists include monetary exchanges due to allegations of dental malpractice, reports filed with the agency directly, and certain other reports. According to their statistics there were 32,516 complaints filed about dentists nationwide between 2004 and 2014. Of these, 1,143 of the reports were from Illinois. While dental malpractice appears to be less common than general medical malpractice, that does not mean it is not a serious matter. Dental procedures can be extremely painful. They can also permanently impact a patient’s ability to chew or in some cases even his or her ability to talk. In some extreme cases, particularly in the case of oral surgeries, malpractice can even be deadly.
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