Even the best dentists are prone to mistakes, although no one likes to imagine a procedure going awry. Issues such as improper doses of anesthesia and botched extractions are some of the more obvious reasons to file a dental malpractice lawsuit, but your dentist can also be held responsible if they fail to manage or treat an infection properly or get your full consent before starting a procedure. There are many potential types of dental malpractice lawsuits, but here are some of the most common.
1. Nerve Damage
Nerve injuries in routine dental and oral surgery procedures are uncommon. When they do occur, it's often in one of the two nerves that are more prone to injuries. The lingual nerve can be damaged during a wisdom tooth extraction, and the inferior alveolar nerve may be injured during a wisdom tooth extraction, root canals, and when placing dental implants. Some signs of nerve injuries include pain, drooling, loss of taste, and unusual sensations in the mouth.
Dentists can also reduce the risk of future litigation by informing patients of all the potential risks during wisdom tooth removals and other procedures. Patients should be specifically aware that there's a chance of nerve injury during wisdom tooth extractions and should give their full consent before the start of the procedure.
2. Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia is a risk in any medical procedure, and adverse reactions are sometimes unpreventable. However, dentists may cause the patient harm or death if they use the incorrect dose, administer the wrong type of anesthesia, or fail to take typical precautions.
Administering too much or too little anesthesia can have adverse effects. For example, a patient who doesn't receive enough anesthesia can wake up during the procedure and may experience a significant amount of pain. Too much of the medication can cause complications, such as brain damage, vomiting, and overdosing.
Infections are a potential complication in any medical setting, including the dentist's office. They can happen to anyone at any time and aren't exclusively grounds for a lawsuit. However, if the dentist fails to take proper precautions, such as monitoring for signs of an infection after a procedure or taking improper preventative measures, subsequent infections can become their responsibility. Dentists can also be held liable if they don't treat an infection quickly enough, no matter how benign or slight it might seem.
4. Botched Extractions
Extractions, or having your teeth pulled, are common dental procedures. These quick procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis by a dentist or dental surgeon. The healthcare provider may use intravenous, local, or general anesthesia depending on the issue. Some dental extraction lawsuits involve the administration of medication, while others focus on the procedure itself. For example, when done irresponsibly, extractions can cause issues, such as infections, excessive bleeding, broken jaws, sinus perforation, or death. Sometimes, the lawsuit is because the dentist failed to diagnose or treat a condition caused by the extraction, such as a sinus perforation.
5. Delayed or Incorrect Diagnoses
An improper or delayed diagnosis can have lasting and, sometimes, permanent consequences for the patient. Unnecessary medical expenses and treatments can add up, placing a high financial burden on the patient. In the worst-case scenarios, it could lead to death. Any dentist who fails to properly diagnose and treat an issue in a timely manner could be held legally responsible for resulting injuries or health problems.