Feared by children and avoided by many adults, dentists get a bad rap. Just like other medical professionals, dentists provide necessary and sometimes life-changing services.
Unfortunately, just as in other medical fields, dental work is accompanied by inherent risks and additional risks created through error and malpractice. Those who have been hurt at the hands of a dentist or dental practice may be entitled to compensation through dental malpractice lawsuits.
What is dental malpractice?
Just as with general medical malpractice, Florida law defines dental malpractice as injury or death caused by the negligence of a medical provider. Medical malpractice cases that involve death morph into wrongful death lawsuits.
Wrongful, Delayed, or Failed Diagnosis
One of the most common types of dental malpractice lawsuits involves the wrongful or delayed diagnosis of a patient. In such cases, these delayed or erroneous diagnoses can lead to injury, unnecessary treatments and medical expenses, and death.
In addition, a dentist who overlooks obvious oral health issues or fails to diagnose such an issue may be held liable for resulting injuries or health issues. A dental practitioner has a duty of care toward their patients. This duty of care is undermined when the practitioner acts in any way that’s considered negligent or appears to disregard the life and health of their patient.
Unnecessary or Improper Procedures
Despite the inherent duty of care and respect required by medical professionals, not every practitioner adheres or upholds those standards.
There have been cases in which dentists were found to have performed unnecessary or improper procedures. In one Florida case, a dentist was accused of extracting the teeth of his minor patients without just cause. More than 130 patients accused him of cruel behavior and child abuse that spanned decades.
Types of improper procedures vary, but one of the most common is orthodontic treatments performed on a patient with active periodontal disease. The disease is a type of gum infection that can lead to tooth loss. If the bacteria from the infection enter your bloodstream, they can cause health issues such as respiratory and coronary artery disease.
Similar to improper procedures, another common type of dental malpractice is the delay of necessary treatment. A delay in treatment for a serious dental issue such as active periodontal disease can cause a host of other health issues that can be chronic or fatal.
Just as how the bacteria from the untreated aforementioned disease can weave their way through the body and cause havoc, so can other oral health issues, regardless of how benign or slight they seem. Even tooth decay, an extremely common issue, can be fatal when untreated.
Nerve and Muscle Injuries
A slip of a dental tool can mean suffering severe and chronic nerve or muscle damage. Your jaw is home to a slew of complex nerve and muscle webbings that allow you to open and close your mouth, speak, and swallow. Losing the ability to freely perform any of those activities without pain can severely affect your quality of life. Repairing or reconditioning those areas can be expensive, if not impossible.
Anesthesia Errors or Abuse
Too much anesthesia can lead to serious injuries and death. Anesthesia, even used properly, carries its own risks, both short and long-term.
Aside from erroneous measurements or exposure, anesthesia also has been abused by medical professionals. In one case, a dentist was accused of using anesthesia to knock patients out so he could sexually abuse them. The allegations span decades.
What should I do if I’ve suffered from dental malpractice?
Oral hygiene can strongly affect your overall health. If you’ve suffered malpractice at the hands of a dentist, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering.
You entrusted your body and life to a medical professional who failed you due to negligence or general lack of care. Whether you are now dealing with chronic pain, loss of jaw movement, or another issue, you also have the invisible scars and trauma that come with losing trust in experts meant to care for you.
Pursuing a dental malpractice lawsuit means fighting for compensation for medical bills, loss of income, and the mental anguish and pain you’re suffering.
Contact a Dental Malpractice Lawyer Today
In Florida, dental malpractice lawsuits can be filed up until two years from the date of the incident. Though it may seem overwhelming or expensive to pursue legal action amid a medical crisis, a dental malpractice lawsuit can help you to pay for ongoing medical treatments, therapy, medication, and more. You don’t need to suffer in silence.
Let Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath help you get the compensation you need and the treatment you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation with an expert dental malpractice lawyer. Call us now at 561-867-4117 or visit our website to get your free consultation.