One little reported area of medical malpractice involves the teeth. Dental malpractice can become an whether you are getting a routine cleaning or undergoing serious dental surgery. An area of dental malpractice that is likely highly underreported is pediatric dental malpractice. Since so many children are afraid of the dentist, and since children can often have difficulties expressing accurate and detailed information about their experiences, parents may not even realize that their child has been a victim. This can go on for years, as one case out of Florida demonstrates.
Florida Pediatric Dentist is Facing Extreme Accusations
The Daily Mail reports that a Florida pediatric dentist has been accused in a class action lawsuit of torturing children over multiple decades. WLTX 19 reports that the dentist is currently under investigation by state authorities. The lawsuit alleges that the dentist’s practice is a front for a “sadistic and systematic scheme of physical and psychological torture and abuse” of “utterly defenseless” children.
Rather than phrase the lawsuit as a traditional malpractice claim, the four named plaintiffs have sued the doctor for assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Multiple parents have complained that the dentist abused their children and botched their dental work while he was at it. Some parents claim their children were strapped down and left with visible injuries to their faces and necks. There are also claims that the dentist performed dental procedures that were not medically necessary and that painful procedures were done without anesthetic.
Vulnerable Populations at Risk for Malpractice
The suit against this dentist claims that the he specifically preyed on low-income, uneducated, and non-English speaking clients. While at this point the claims in this case are only allegations and have not yet been proven, they do highlight a serious problem in our medical and dental system. While healthcare is often too expensive for even middle class people with insurance to make much of a choice when it comes to picking a health care provider, those who are living in poverty or dealing with a language barrier are even less likely to have much of a choice of providers.
Difference Between Intentional Torts and Negligence
The lawsuit in this dentist case involves allegations of intentional torts like battery. Intentional torts are different from medical malpractice in that they do not use the negligence standard. Instead of the wrong being the result of a person’s not living up to the standard of care, in the case of intentional torts the bad act is intentionally done. These types of torts can be more difficult to prove because they require proving that the defendant meant to hurt someone. However, these torts may not be subject to the same statute of limitations as medical malpractice claims, so they may allow a person to file suit who cannot file a medical malpractice suit. In states with tort reform, they also may not be subject to draconian damage caps that affect medical malpractice claims.
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