Going to the dentist can stir up fear and anxiety in a lot of people in Atlanta. But what happens when an already stressful situation turns traumatic? When someone suffers serious injuries at the hands of a dentist, it could be a case of dental malpractice, which is similar to medical malpractice.
Elements necessary to prove dental malpractice:
- Duty of care - The first is that the dentist agreed to treat the person. By accepting the individual as a patient, the dentist has an obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care.
- Breach in the duty of care - The second element is the dentist breached the duty of care owed to the patient. This means failing to provide a reasonable level of care, which is oftentimes compared to what another professional would do under similar circumstances. One way to prove this is through expert testimony.
- Negligent care caused injury - Another element is showing the dentist's negligence is what caused the injury. Sometimes that's challenging when the person already had dental or medical problems. But if the act of negligence isn't connected to the injury, it's not malpractice.
- Injury results in damages - Not all mistakes will lead to compensation. The patient must have suffered harm that results in damages such as additional medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
Common Types of Dental Malpractice
Dentist malpractice can come in many forms, which may include:
- failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis;
- using dental instruments incorrectly;
- failure to detect/treat complications;
- improperly administering anesthesia;
- unnecessary treatment/procedure;
- improperly monitoring patient;
- defective/broken equipment;
- failure to take into account patient’s medical history;
- unsanitary conditions/equipment;
- expired medications; and
- failure to refer patient to a specialist when necessary.
The repercussions of mistakes such as these can include chronic pain, nerve damage, multiple surgeries, disfigurement and more. In the most severe cases, it could even cause death.
Evidence Necessary in a Dental Malpractice Claim and How an Attorney Can Help
Medical records are one way to show negligence; this may include X-rays, test results and other reports. Statements from dental assistants or other staff members may also help.
Testimony from a dentist who provided a second opinion or an expert called upon are other ways to prove malpractice. Physical evidence is another way to demonstrate dental negligence, such as prescribed medication or the equipment itself (if it was a contributing factor).
It's important to seek legal counsel from the start, given the many complex issues that can arise. An attorney can investigate the details to determine if there is a case and who may be liable.
Sometimes in the field of dentistry it's not only the dentist but others who might be liable such as:
- oral surgeons;
- cosmetic dentists; and
In some cases it could be more than one party liable for injuries. Working with an attorney who handles these types of cases is important. Get help today by contacting the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz if you’re in the Atlanta area. Call us at 404-474-0804.