When many people think about medical malpractice, they imagine surgical errors or medication mistakes. Dental malpractice is talked about less frequently, but it does occur and can result in serious injuries. Here are the common types of dental malpractice.
If a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, extraction may be the only option. While it is a fairly routine procedure, mistakes can still be made if the dentist is negligent. For example, the dentist may extract the wrong tooth or a healthy tooth. An improperly performed extraction can increase the risk of infection and require additional treatments.
Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is very treatable if it is found in the early stages. That’s why it’s very important for dentists to recognize the signs of oral cancer in their patients. If a patient, for example, has sores in his or her mouth that haven’t healed, the dentist should order testing. If the dentist fails to do that and the patient’s oral cancer advances, the dentist may be found negligent.
Like doctors, dentists sometimes prescribe medication for their patients. For instance, if you just had your wisdom teeth removed, your dentist may prescribe pain medication. However, before writing a prescription for anything, the dentist should assess the patient’s medical history, age, weight and other factors. If a dentist fails to do this, the patient could take the incorrect dosage or a medication that interacts with another medication.
Performing Unnecessary Treatments
Dentists should only recommend a treatment if it’s absolutely necessary. If they recommend a treatment that the patient didn’t actually need, a dental malpractice case could arise. For example, a dentist could tell a patient that he or she needs a filling when there are no cavities present.
Using Unsterilized Dental Tools
From sickle probes to scalers, dentists use a variety of tools when treating patients. It is critical for dentists to properly sterilize these tools after each use. Otherwise, patients are in danger of suffering infection.
Improperly Administering Anesthesia
Before performing dental surgery, like wisdom tooth removal, a dentist will administer anesthesia to make sure that the patient is perfectly comfortable. If too much or too little anesthesia is administered, the patient could suffer serious health complications.