Enabling Dental Assistant to Hold Themselves Out to be a Dentist
The patient (plaintiff) presented to the dental office of the defendant general dentist and received care from the second defendant, who the patient perceived to be another dentist in the same office. However, the second defendant was not a dentist, but a dental assistant. The dentist allowed the dental assistant to perform several procedures on the patient that she was not licensed to perform, resulting in injury to the patient. Consequently, the patient suffered a fracture of a tooth, abscesses, dental sores, and the need for a new partial denture.
The patient filed a lawsuit, alleging that the dentist and DA were negligent in failing to conduct adequate observation of the patient’s conditions, placing improperly fitting crowns on the patient, failing to properly secure the patient’s bridgework, and creating an atmosphere where employees of the defendant general dentist could hold themselves out to the public to be dentists when they were in fact not. The defendants denied all allegations of negligence and maintained that the patient was treated by properly trained and qualified staff, and that those staff followed proper procedures in accordance with all standards.
After reviewing evidence and hearing arguments from both parties, a board of arbitrators found in favor of the patient and awarded the patient $50,000.
Case study reproduced with permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.
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