Dentists are medical practitioners who are also obligated to provide an acceptable standard of care to their patients. Medical mistakes at the dentist’s office can kill patients or leave them with permanent injuries. For instance, there is currently a case in Houston where a dentist is accused of causing severe brain damage to a 4-year-old girl. The dentist allegedly failed to monitor the girl during a procedure and gave her too many sedatives. As a result, the girl can no longer speak, walk, eat or see.
There are other types of medical mistakes that may occur at a dentist’s office. Examples of medical malpractice at the dentist’s office might include:
- Anesthesia mistakes: Some dental procedures require patients to undergo general anesthesia. Mistakes made during general anesthesia could lead to traumatic brain injuries or death. Patients may also not receive enough anesthesia, which could lead to anesthesia awareness. This is where a patient is awake during the surgery but unable to move or speak. Anesthesia awareness may cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Failure to diagnose oral health conditions: While performing a procedure or image test on a patient, a dentist may fail to notice signs of oral cancer. As a result, the patient could succumb to the disease or suffer permanent health problems due to late treatment.
- Infections: Multiple types of medical mistakes can lead to infections. Poorly sterilized equipment, perforations, retained surgical instruments and failing to treat existing infections can put patients at risk of death or serious injury.
- Lack of informed consent: In this scenario, a patient may awake from a procedure to discover that other procedures were performed without his or her consent. Dentists must inform patients (or their parents or caregivers) of treatment details so they can make informed decisions.
- Surgery mistakes: Anesthesia errors are not the only type of surgical mistake that can occur in a dentist’s office. For instance, a dentist may perform the incorrect procedure on a patient. This is only one possible example.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Dental Malpractice?
These are only a handful of examples of mistakes that could lead to death or serious injury. Not all mistakes at the dentist’s office are medical malpractice. Mistakes must meet specific criteria to be considered medical malpractice, so it is important to speak with an attorney if you believe your dentist was negligent.
Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to file a lawsuit for dental malpractice. Our attorneys can review your situation to help you determine whether you have legal options. The Atlantic City medical malpractice lawyers at Donald G. Targan & Associates have decades of combined experience helping patients and families who were harmed by medical mistakes.