What is Dental Malpractice?
Dentists are health care professionals. When they treat a patient, they must obtain the patient’s informed consent for the treatment. If a dentist performed a treatment on you without your consent, you may have a claim against the dentist for dental malpractice. You may also have a malpractice claim if the dentist performed a treatment on you that exceeded your consent, such as when you consented to a specific procedure but the dentist performed a different procedure without first obtaining your consent for the different procedure.
In other cases, the dentist obtains proper informed consent from the patient, but the dentist performs the treatment negligently and the dentist’s negligence harms the patient. Under Florida law, the dentist must treat the patient with the same degree of care, skill, and treatment as would a reasonably prudent dentist under the same or similar circumstances. That standard does not mean that a dentist can, or is required to, guarantee any particular results for the patient. However, the dentist’s conduct must meet an objectively reasonable standard.
Thus, in order to recover on a malpractice claim against a dentist for negligence, you must show that:
- The dentist’s treatment of you did not meet the standard of a reasonably prudent dentist under the same or similar circumstances;
- The dentist’s failure to act reasonably caused your injury; and
- You suffered damages as a result of the injury.
Dental malpractice is similar to medical malpractice.
Common Dental Malpractice
Some common types of dental malpractice include the following:
- Delayed diagnosis or treatment;
- Failing to diagnose or treat oral conditions;
- Failing to keep accurate records of each patient, including any complaints from the patient;
- Failing to warn the patient of all the risks associated with a certain dental procedure;
- Improperly prescribing medications for a patient;
- Inappropriately touching a patient;
- Mishandling anesthesia or other medications;
- Negligently performing dental procedures;
- Performing dental procedures for which the dentist is not licensed or qualified;
- Performing dental procedures for which the patient did not consent;
- Performing dental procedures on the wrong tooth; or
- Performing unnecessary dental procedures on the patient.
Dental Malpractice Injuries
Dental malpractice can result in a broad variety of harms, including:
- Broken teeth;
- Infection after surgery or treatment;
- Injuries caused by anesthesia or other medications;
- Injuries caused by broken or faulty instruments;
- Periodontal (gum) disease;
- Permanent damage to the nerves in the tongue, jaw, chin, or lips;
- Permanent loss of feeling or taste;
- Permanent structural damage;
- Temporomandibular disorders (TMD);
- Tooth extractions;
- Trigeminal neuralgia; or
- Wrongful death
What can a patient recover in a dental malpractice lawsuit?
If a patient suffers an injury due to a dentist’s negligence or misconduct, that patient may be able to recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical costs to treat the injury;
- Lost wages;
- Value of future lost wages;
- Pain and suffering; and
- loss of consortium.
Statute of Limitations for Dental Malpractice
In Florida, patients injured by dental malpractice have a limited amount of time in which they can sue their dentists. This limit is called the statute of limitations. If you have suffered harm from dental malpractice, you must file your case within that time period or you may be barred from suing the dentist. Therefore, as soon as you discover an injury from the dental treatment you received, it is important to contact a lawyer right away to help you pursue your claim.
Dental Malpractice Lawyers
If you have suffered an injury due to dental malpractice, or believe you may have, please contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case. You may contact us online or phone us at 305-372-0123 to arrange your consultation. For no charge, you can tell us about your injury and learn how the legal system may handle your case. We look forward to hearing from you and to working with you.