Dental Negligence

Dental Negligence Claims

No one enjoys visiting the dentist but when the treatment you receive is negligent the experience will be even more harrowing. The dental negligence may arise from treatment through the NHS or through a private treatment provider, it may have been medical or cosmetic - it makes no difference. If the treatment or intervention was either unnecessary or not provided to the standard expected by the dental profession then you may be entitled to bring a claim for dental negligence and receive compensation.

What Is Dental Negligence?

There are many different circumstances under which dental negligence occurs. These include teeth being incorrectly or unnecessarily removed, infections caused due by lack of care taken during treatment or surgery, failure to diagnose certain dental conditions which subsequently leads to complications and/or infections, the wrong tooth being removed leaving the patient requiring further dental treatment, anaesthetic being applied incorrectly or not applied at all, failing to check whether the patient has any allergies related to the dental equipment being used and complications being caused by untrained or under-qualified staff carrying out dental procedures.

These examples of dental negligence can all lead to trauma for the patient concerned. Negligence can cause complications and infections which require the patient to undergo further treatment and/or surgery which would not have been necessary if dental negligence had not occurred. The patient may also suffer unduly with pain and discomfort and take a longer time to recover from the treatment they have received if there has been some element of dental negligence.

For you to be able to sue your dentist your solicitor will have to prove that they have been negligent. For a dentist to have been negligent it must be shown that a reasonable body of medical professionals would not have acted in the same way that they did. In this way it can be shown that your dentist has been negligent in the following ways:-

1. Dosage errors
2. Wrongful diagnosis
3. Missed diagnosis
4. Badly performed surgery
5. Wrong/unnecessary tooth removal
6. Treatment errors

Errors happen, and errors do not always equal negligence. However, if your dentist has made an error which could have been avoided and it has caused you physical, psychological and/or financial damage, you have probably been the victim of negligence.

Types of Dental Negligence Claims

Dental treatment can be complicated, and is with any surgical procedure sometimes complications do arise. Complications with surgical treatments do not automatically equal dental negligence. However there are some situations which are likely to be deemed as negligent in the eyes of the law. These are as follows:

  • Poorly performed surgery: this could be surgery performed by an under-qualified individual, or surgery which was badly performed to an extent that the surgery itself is deemed substandard. Unforeseeable complications in procedures which are not the fault of the dentist themselves do not come under this category.
  • Incorrect treatment: incorrect surgical procedure performed, such as the unnecessary or incorrect removal or tooth/teeth.

    Tooth removal is a relatively simple process but the healing time afterwards can be a little uncomfortable and in unfortunate cases can be prone to complications such as infection. A dentist may take out the wrong tooth due to a dentist's diagnosis error, or due to a surgical error when completing the extraction process.

    If your dentist removes the wrong tooth it may lead to you having to have further surgical procedures to remove the infected tooth itself. It can also lead to further pain and complications following the procedure. The procedure would also be considered negligent if it was performed unnecessarily, this would have put you, as a patient, through a painful process which you did not need to suffer.

    Previous successful negligence cases under this guise have included a case in which a man was awarded with £4,000 compensation after his dentist failed to perform the diagnostic processes necessary to confirm advanced decay in his teeth. The issue could have been treated by non-invasive treatment rather than completing the extraction.

  • Incorrect drug administration: administering of drugs which the patient is known to be allergic to, administering drugs which conflict with medication the patient is already on, dosage errors and anaesthetic errors.

    When receiving dental treatment, negligent administration of drugs presents itself in similar ways to negligence drug administration in the medical profession. Common errors are:

    1. Prescribing errors - prescribing errors which can end up becoming classified as negligent are: dosage errors, administration of the incorrect drugs or unnecessarily prescribing drugs, prescription of drugs the patient has a known allergy to, the prescribing of drugs which conflict with medication the patient is already taking.
    2. Anaesthetic errors - anaesthetic errors have the potential to be extremely damaging. The failure to provide adequate anaesthesia to prevent pain during a procedure also comes under this issue.
    3. Failure to provide treatment - failure to provide drugs required at any point of the dental procedure, for example, failure to provide antibiotics in aftercare should an infection develop.

    Any errors in drug administration can be serious and errors during dental treatment are no different. Dental drug negligence is serious as it can result in long term issues for the patient or the need for extremely painful further surgery if a relatively simple issue is not treated adequately at the appropriate time with the relevant course of treatment. The negligent administration of drugs to which the patient is allergic or which conflict with current medication has the potential to result in death.

  • Failure to diagnose this could be a failure to diagnose a disorder itself or a diagnosis that was not made in a timely fashion.

    A dental failure to diagnose situation can lead to a patient having to have a more serious or complicated treatment than would have originally been required to treat their issue.

    When is a failure to diagnose considered dental negligence? A failure to diagnose becomes negligence when it is considered that a reasonable body of medical professionals would have been able to diagnose the issue more rapidly or more accurately. Commonly negligence occurs when an extremely common disorder is missed by the dentist, such as gum disease or tooth decay. If you are worried that you have been a victim of dental negligence you should firstly contact your dentist to see whether you can bring the situation to a conclusion without having to take court action. If they are unwilling to help, or you feel their proposals of settlement are unsatisfactory, you should contact a specialist dental negligence solicitor.

  • Misdiagnosis: either misdiagnosis of the problem itself leading to incorrect treatment being given, or misdiagnosis of where the problem is stemming from leading to the wrong area of the mouth being treated.

    Dental misdiagnosis can be painful, time consuming and irritating. However, misdiagnosis does not always mean negligence. Unfortunately some issues are just very rare or difficult to detect. Cases which do lead to dental negligence claims are cases in which it is thought that a reasonable body of medical professionals would have been able to make the diagnosis and therefore would not have delayed the treatment as long as your negligent dentist did.

    Dental misdiagnosis negligence claims would be likely to be successful if you have been a victim of negligence that has caused you to suffer unnecessarily due to the negligent actions of a third party. For example:
  • 1. Misdiagnosis of the problem tooth and removal of an incorrect tooth
    2. Unnecessary tooth removal due to misdiagnosis
    3. Incorrect drugs administered due to misdiagnosis
    4. Lack of treatment of the original condition

    The third party could be either the dentist themselves, a dental technician or a dental nurse. All of the dental professionals have a duty to provide you with adequate treatment whilst you are in their care.

    The most serious diagnosis issue that could occur would be a total failure to diagnose the issue at hand at all, leading to possible complications, more severe treatments having to be performed or even lasting issues into later life.

  • Failure to provide adequate aftercare
  • Failure to provide information regarding risks of the procedure
  • Administration errors leading to incorrect referrals
  • Failure to provide diagnostic tests such as x-rays.
  • Infections - caused due by lack of care taken during treatment or surgery
  • Anaesthetic being applied incorrectly or not applied at all
  • Negligence by an orthodontist
  • Negligence relating to a cosmetic dental procedure

These examples of dental negligence can all lead to trauma for the patient concerned. Negligence can cause complications and infections which require the patient to undergo further treatment and/or surgery which would not have been necessary if dental negligence had not occurred. The patient may also suffer unduly with pain and discomfort and take a longer time to recover from the treatment they have received if there has been some element of dental negligence.

What are the Costs?

1stClaims does not charge you for using our service and all initial enquiries with our Solicitors are also free of charge, so rest assured, this initial step of making an enquiry will not cost you anything.

Once one of our Solicitors has assessed the merits of your enquiry they will make a judgement on the likely chances of bringing a successful claim and if the prospects are good, they will normally offer to take your case on a No Win No Fee basis. NOTE: If your case is successful your Solicitor will deduct up to a maximum of 25% of your final settlement or compensation award as payment for their fees. You can find out more about No Win No Fee arrangements and the potential costs that can be incurred by clicking here.

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Making a Dental Negligence Claim

If you think you may have cause to pursue a claim for dental negligence you should act quickly. As soon as you are aware that some form of negligence may have occurred you should seek advice from an expert medical negligence solicitor who specialises in dental negligence claims. As with personal injury claims, you have three years from the date of the incident in which to pursue a claim. The sooner you do enter into the process the more likely your claim is to be successful given that you will be in the best position to provide accurate evidence to support your claim. This evidence may be given as a written statement and/or a verbal interview and will always include a medical assessment by an impartial legal doctor who will assess the extent of your injuries.

Dental Negligence is a specialist area that requires specialist advice

All 1stClaims solicitors have experience in dealing with dental negligence claims and understand this complex area of law. They will be sympathetic to your particular case and will guide you through the legal procedure. If you think you may have been the subject of dental negligence we can help you with a free initial interview wherever you are in the UK.

If you would like 1stClaims' expert dental negligence solicitors on your side please call us free on 0800 2888 693 or complete our Free Claim Enquiry form now and we will be in touch with you very soon. All initial enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you. In most cases we will be able to offer a 'no win no fee' option for your claim.

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