Alleged Lingual Nerve Injury Following Extraction of Lower Molar

The plaintiff, a retiree in her late fifties, presented to the defendant dentist for an extraction of her lower right third molar. She subsequently claimed that she suffered a lingual nerve injury during the extraction of the tooth. The plaintiff filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against the defendant dentist and her dental practice, claiming that the defendant was negligent in 1) performing the extraction and 2) failing to provide her with informed consent regarding the risks of injury. 

Prior to trial, the court ruled in favor of the defendant dentist’s motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claim that the dental extraction failed to meet the professional standard of care. The plaintiff was unable to present sufficient evidence to proceed to trial with the allegation that the defendant dentist had violated the standard of care in performing the extraction. Therefore, the only claim that went to trial was the defendant’s alleged lack of informed consent. 

During the trial, the plaintiff’s dental expert witness opined that the defendant failed to provide the plaintiff with a written informed consent form. The defense argued that the plaintiff was provided with all the information available regarding the risks associated with the procedure. The defense’s expert asserted that a written informed consent form was not required, and that the defendant thoroughly discussed the risks of the procedure with the plaintiff. Further, the defense was able to present documentation in the plaintiff’s dental health care record that supported the defense’s assertion that the defendant dentist discussed the potential risks associated with the procedure with the plaintiff.

The jury rendered a defense verdict after deliberating for three hours at the conclusion of a five-day trial. 

With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.