Dentists, like other healthcare professionals, must be cautious about venturing into situations that can lead to malpractice lawsuits. Whenever a patient accuses a dentist of malpractice they are alleging that the services or advice they were given violated a professional standard of care. In essence, they are claiming that the work failed to meet reasonable expectations based on any professional training and experience, which is why dentist professional liability insurance is needed; to deal with these types of claims.
Whether or not a trial ends in a settlement, it can still cost a dental practitioner a lot of time and money. According to the Bureau of Justice, the median price tag for a dental malpractice judgment is over $50,000, which doesn’t include the cost of legal defense. Even a dropped and dismissed case can still cost dentists between $2,000 and $5,000 at a minimum.
The types of disputes that can lead to malpractice claims
It’s important for dentists to realize that many claims against them, while often viewed as frivolous, can still be damaging both, financially, and to their reputation. Some people file lawsuits to be spiteful when there actually wasn’t any mistake or violation to the standard of care. That said, it’s important to be aware of the common malpractice claims made against dentists, which includes the following:
- Failure to give a patient all the information he or she needs
For example, a patient could claim that their dentist didn’t fully describe all possible treatment options and any associated risks, meaning the patient couldn’t make an informed decision about their dental care.
- Failed treatments or procedures
Patients can may claims of tooth damage or injury from mishandled restorations, root canals, and many other procedures. Claims citing their dentist failed to spot decay or other problems during a routine oral exam, leading to greater, more expensive problems can result in costly litigation.
- Questionable professional advice
Dentists can be accused of failure to provide proper professional council, or not referring a patient to a specialist when it was necessary.
- Products liability
Using faulty products, oral devices, and other materials can also land a dentist in “hot water.”
With so many exposures and concerns it only makes good business sense to carry proper amounts of dentist professional liability insurance to avoid potential financial disaster.