What is Dental Malpractice?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 21, 2015 3:57 PM

Generally, when we think of medical malpractice with think of doctors making diagnostic, medication, or surgical errors. But we don't tend to think of mistakes happening in a dentist's office.

Truth is, we trust dentists with our health just as much as cardiologists, orthopedists, or surgeons. And, sadly, mistakes in dental care can be just as costly. Here is a look at some of the common dental malpractice issues and how victims can use medical malpractice claims to recover for their injuries.

Breach of the Standard of Care

Patients in Oklahoma sued a dentist after it was revealed that the unsanitary conditions at his office possibly exposed his patients to hepatitis and HIV. Dentists owe their patients a standard of care equal to the level of skill, expertise, and care possessed and practiced by dentists in the same or similar community, and under similar circumstances.

It's obvious that most dentists in Oklahoma, and elsewhere, should keep their offices disease-free, and this particular dentist probably failed to meet his duty of care. With the amount of patients they see and the type of care being provided, dentists take extra precautions to keep offices clean and equipment sterile.

Unwarranted Treatment

There have also been cases of patients wearing braces for over a decade, when the average time to wear them is one to three years. Meanwhile, dentists are being paid fees for maintaining and adjusting the braces.

Dentists are required to get informed consent from their patients regarding treatment options, otherwise any treatment is unauthorized. It's likely that if the patients had known that extra years of braces were unnecessary, they would not have agreed to wear them.

Surgical Errors

We can forget that dental surgery is still surgery, and the same issues of anesthesia and surgical care come into play. And deaths during what seem to be routine dental surgeries are not uncommon. Any surgery carries risk. But our dentists should be properly trained and certified to handle any exigency without exposing patients to additional harm.

If you think you have been injured by the poor care you received from a dentist, you should talk to a medical malpractice attorney to find out more about your rights and options.

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