Patients trust that their dentists will accurately diagnose and treat their dental issues, as well as provide adequate preventive care. When a dentist fails to follow proper protocols, a myriad of problems can result. A patient may end up with even more problems, unnecessary pain, and significant dental issues that are difficult to treat. When this happens, it is commonly referred to as dental malpractice.
The Academy of Dental Learning & OSHA Training (ADL) has reported that one common type of dental error that occurs is misdiagnosis. This can happen if a dentist doesn’t perform the right diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, or performs certain tests incorrectly. As a result, a patient may be diagnosed with a condition they don’t have, and may end up going through unnecessary treatments. In other cases, a patient’s dental condition may be missed entirely. When this happens, a patient may not receive adequate treatment in time, which can result in the condition worsening. For example, what could have been a simple dental procedure might lead to a necessary root canal or tooth extraction.
It has been reported that some of the most misdiagnosed dental conditions include malignant neoplasms or mouth cancers, periodontal disease and gingivitis, disorders of the hard tissues of the teeth, and disorders of the dental pulp and periapical tissues. When a dental condition is misdiagnosed, it can lead to:
- Tooth loss and/or infection
- Facial scarring
- Jaw fractures
- Temporomandibular joint injury
- Nerve damage
Surgical errors also happen far too frequently, with dental extraction errors being the most common. More specifically, it has been reported that extraction of the wrong tooth is the most commonly reported dental surgical error. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that these errors are actually underreported, and may occur a lot more frequently than realized. Some other dental surgical errors that have also been reported include:
- Retained roots tips
- Improperly sterilized instruments
- Biopsy of the wrong area
- Breakage of surgical burs
- Medication errors
There are certain precautions that dental practices can take to help minimize these risks. For example, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends that dental offices go through a rigorous preoperative verification process, which involves confirming that dental surgeons are about to operate on the correct patient, and that they carefully review charts, x-rays, referral slips, and dental diagrams. They also recommend marking the operative site, as well as taking a “time out” immediately before the procedure to confirm all operative details with another individual at the practice, such as a dental assistant.
Although patients expect that their dentists will only deliver care of the highest standards, unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Extra steps can be taken to help minimize or completely prevent risks and adverse effects when it comes to routine dental procedures, but these extra steps are sometimes skipped. It can be frustrating to know that your dental error could have easily been prevented, and you could have been spared unnecessary pain and procedures.
If you were the victim of dental malpractice, you may be working with an attorney on a dental malpractice lawsuit. Waiting for a dental malpractice lawsuit to settle can be a long and unpredictable process, and you may be wondering when you’ll receive settlement money. Because the timeline can be uncertain, it may be worth looking into other options, especially if you’re counting on that money to take care of bills and other expenses. At USClaims, we offer an alternative to those waiting on cases to settle; this is a process known as pre-settlement funding, also commonly referred to as a lawsuit advance. Contact us today to learn more!