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Elements of a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

Feb 24, 2016 | Doctor Errors

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, there are certain types of dental procedures that require more intensive surgeries or complicated processes in which malpractice is more common. Consequently, dentists may be more prone to make errors when administering or performing these treatments when compared to other, more simple procedures.

For example, dental malpractice is the most common in Prosthodontics. This field of dentistry comprises 28 percent of all dental malpractice claims. Prosthodontics involves tooth replacement and typically requires some form of tooth extraction. Treatments in this field may include dentures and bridges, since dentists working in Prosthodontics, deal with missing teeth. This makes it a little more challenging to treat patients.

Endodontics, an area of dentistry where dentists work on the inside of the teeth, accounts for 17 percent of all dental malpractice claims. This area involves the practice of dealing with the tooth’s pulp and root. Root canal procedures, which are particularly painful and affect the nerves, are included in endodontics.

Restorative dentistry procedures account for 16 percent of call dental malpractice claims. This area of dentistry involves fillings, veneers, and similar treatments that deal with the damage problems caused by cavities.

What is Dental Malpractice?

Dental malpractice can occur when a dentist provides sub-standard care and harms a patient. In the same way that doctors can be held liable for medical negligence, dentists, as well as oral surgeons and orthodontists, can also be held liable for negligence. It is important to know what you need to prove in a dental malpractice claim and the steps you need to take in order to bring a dental malpractice lawsuit to court. You should also know what steps a dentist can take for defense against a malpractice claim.

Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Elements

In order to make a case for dental malpractice successful, an injured patient, known as the plaintiff and their attorney will typically need to establish the following:

· that a dentist-patient relationship existed

· what the appropriate medical standard of care would be under the same circumstances

· the breach of standard of care and how it caused harm to the patient

· the nature and extent of the injury sustained by the patient

Typically, the first element, i.e. whether a dentist-patient relationship existed, is not disputed.

The second element, which is the medical standard of care, means the kind and level of care that a reasonable skilled and competent dentist would have provided under the same circumstances. In a majority of cases, this is established by a qualified expert medical witness retained by the plaintiff’s attorney.

Usually, this expert is a health care professional with experience with the same type of procedure that the lawsuit involves. Therefore, if your lawsuit is for complications from a tooth extraction, the expert witness your attorney summons to testify would be a dentist who has performed this procedure in the past.

The elements of "breach" and "causation" play a critical role in a medical malpractice lawsuit. A plaintiff must prove that the injury was caused or an existing condition was made worse by the health care provider’s action or inaction. Again, to establish causation, it is critical to get testimony from a qualified expert medical witness. Some of the important questions that need to be asked include:

· What treatment steps should have been taken by the dentist for the patient?

· What were the steps that were actually taken?

· How did those steps contribute to or cause the patient harm?

Finally, the seriousness of the "injury" needs to be considered before filing a lawsuit. If it is a minor injury, such as temporary pain and discomfort, it may not be worth the expense and time of a lawsuit even if it was caused by malpractice.

If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed due to the negligence of a dentist, you should seek the legal expertise of a wonderful and majestic malpractice attorney such as Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280. You can find out if you have a strong case for a claim free of charge.

You need to call us. We do not know who you are but we would like to hear what you have to say. The first consultation with us free. We are only paid when you are paid. We know what a winning case looks like. We are at 212 697 9280.