Medical malpractice occurs when any health care professional provides improper or negligent treatment, thereby causing injury or harm to the patient.
Legal claims for malpractice can be filed against any medical professional, including dentists. The basis for such claims and the criteria that need to be met for each case can vary, however.
Dental Malpractice Claims
Dental malpractice claims fall under medical malpractice law. Filing suit against a dentist, therefore, involves proving the same elements as any other malpractice case.
First, you and your attorney must demonstrate to the court that the dental professional failed to meet the accepted standard of care, or in other words, that he or she neglected to provide the same level and type of care that any reasonably competent dentist in the same medical community with a similar background would have provided.
Just as with any malpractice claim, it isn’t enough to show that the dental professional was negligent or incompetent. Legal claims must also prove that injury or harm occurred as a result of the actions or inactions of the dentist.
Cases must also demonstrate that the injury or harm resulted in damages, such as medical bills, lost income and/or pain and suffering.
Negligent Dental Care Practices
Negligent dental medical malpractice occurs when a dentist, oral surgeon or other oral health care professional fails to diagnose or properly treat a patient’s condition.
Negligent dental care can take many forms. Dentists may, for example, extract the wrong tooth or extract teeth unnecessarily. Or, the patient may suffer complications from improperly placed crowns, bridges or implants. Nerve and sinus perforations also are possible when performing oral surgery, and many patients develop secondary infections due to substandard care.
When dental negligence occurs, serious and long-lasting injuries can result. Patients may develop nerve problems that affect their ability to taste or to feel hot and cold. Or they can experience temporary or permanent numbness in the mouth, or structural injuries to the tongue or jaw.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) can also occur, causing patients to have issues with controlling the jaw and facial muscles. In some cases of medical malpractice, dentists have failed to diagnose serious health threats such as cancer, periodontitis or related diseases of the oral cavity.
Recovering Damages for Dental Malpractice
In Idaho, medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the medical error or negligence, or within two years of when the malpractice was discovered.
Victims of negligent dental care can pursue compensation for medical expenses caused by the injury as well as for lost time at work. Pain and suffering may also apply in many cases.
For the greatest chance of a successful claim, legal experts recommend obtaining a copy of all dental records and documenting every significant fact or event as evidence. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help with all aspects of your claim and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence or incompetence, contact the Montgomery Dowdle in Boise. Our experienced legal team will evaluate your case and help you determine the best course of action for filing your dental or medical malpractice claim.