Dentists Med Mal and Implied Standards of Care

Professionals in the medical field are held to certain standards of care, and practitioners of dentistry are held to this same standard. Patients may visit a dentist for something as simple as a cleaning and a check up, or they may need extensive dental surgery, or the amount and type of care may lie somewhere in between. Regardless, they expect that their dentist is a trained and experienced individual who understands the intricacies of the types of procedures they perform and trust that they will provide a safe and productive session. But unforeseen problems can arise, and accidents can occur as well.


What constitutes malpractice?


Malpractice occurs when the dentist’s conduct does not meet the standard care required, thereby leading to personal injuries or, in extreme cases, death. Dentist med mal insurance will protect the dentist in the event that a lawsuit is filed and when a judgment is declared against the dentist or someone working in his or her office.


Contrary to popular belief about malpractice cases, it is not always a botched procedure that leads to litigation. Dental malpractice may also result from the dentist failing to do due diligence, or a lack of attention to other related health problems. Dental negligence and/or malpractice can include any of the following:


  • Insufficient diagnosis or non-treatment of a disease


  • Insufficient treatment of a disease


  • Jaw fracture or other injuries resulting from extractions


  • Infections resulting from treatment or unsanitary tools


  • Improper usage of dental equipment, such as implants, drills and dental lasers


  • Permanent or temporary lingual nerve injury, including tongue and inferior alveolar nerve damage


  • Numbness that becomes permanent


  • Neglecting to inform or update patient on treatment procedure and related risks


  • Marred root canals, implants or dental bridges, and infection resulting from those procedures


  • Osteoradionecrosis following dental extractions in an irradiated jaw


  • Faulty restorations leading to tooth loss, and


  • Improper use of anesthesia causing complications or death


The list of potential concerns for a dental practitioner is extremely long. This merely illustrates the scope of problems that exist for anyone working in the field of dentistry. Any treatment exceeding the scope of consent, or treatment by unlicensed dentists is also grounds for a lawsuit. Negligence on the part of dental professionals, including nurses and assisting attendants can create temporary or sometimes permanent injuries.


With so much inherent risk involved in the daily procedures of dental professionals, comprehensive dentist med mal coverage is certainly something that no dentist should be without.


photo credit: César Augusto Serna Sz cc
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