Risks of many types are involved in medical procedures across the spectrum of specialties. In the case of oral health care providers, negligence and breaches of the standard of care can result in injuries, infections, disfigurement, loss of sensory perception, and permanent damage to the patient.
Potential Injuries Due to Dental Malpractice
Injuries to oral nerves can happen in all types of procedures, be they extractions, endodontic treatments, dental implants, crowns, bridges, root canals, injections, and periodontal disease treatments. Botched dental work in these delicate operations can leave permanent numbness, paralysis, tingling, pain, or loss of taste.
A Case of Nerve Damage from Negligent Tooth Implant Surgery
In a recent case a patient went to a Florida dentist for an initial visit and exam, complaining of rocking lower dentures. The dentist did not document in his exam note whether or not a medical history and previous patient records were obtained before making any recommendations for her treatment. Instead the dentist communicated to the patient that he wanted to place two implants into her lower jaw in order to secure her dentures. Had he taken her medical history, he would have known that she had osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease—two contraindications for implant placement.
Complications from the Implant Surgery
During a post-op visit the patient complained of pain and chin swelling. The sutures had come out prematurely and the membrane and bone graft came out as well. Sutures were replaced and the patient was given steroids, antibiotics, and pain medication.
After repeating the suture replacement procedure on subsequent office visits, the patient developed a severe infection from the implants and the post-implant treatment. She was admitted into a nursing center for several weeks due to weakness and fatigue from jaw pain.
Approximately a month later the patient went to her local hospital emergency room and was diagnosed with facial cellulitis caused by festering wounds. She had to undergo surgery for incision and drainage of the submental space and removal of the implants. Several weeks later she was again at the emergency room with dental infection/abscess and was hospitalized. She underwent surgery to remove her lower jaw due to the osteomyelitis that had developed.
Tragic Results: Removing Her Lower Jaw
After being discharged from the hospital, the patient had to enter the nursing center for rehabilitation to learn how to eat, speak, and function without a lower jaw. At that point she had suffered permanent injuries including excruciating pain, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expenses of hospitalization and medical and nursing care treatment, and aggravation of a previously existing condition (Parkinson’s disease).
Dentist Failed to Provide Acceptable Standard of Care
The responsibility for all of this patient’s pain and suffering lay directly at the feet of the dentist who failed on multiple counts to provide an acceptable standard of care by:
- recommending and performing implant procedures on a candidate for whom the treatment was unsuitable due to her history of osteoporosis and Parkinson’s disease
- failing to obtain prior dental and medical records before performing any implant procedure
- failing to take and document a thorough medical history
- failing to perform an adequate dental exam prior to doing implants and
- failing to consult with the patient’s medical provider(s) prior to the implant procedure to determine prudency of treatment and/or precautions.
Are You a Victim of Dental Malpractice in Florida?
If you, a loved one, or anyone you know has suffered bodily injury as a result of negligent and/or substandard dental care in Florida, please call our office at 727-446-0840 to speak with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney or contact us online. Florida has a shortened period within which claims of dental and other medical malpractice claims must be brought. Your failure to bring a claim within the prescribed time limit will result in it being forever barred. Don’t delay; get your questions answered in order to understand your rights.