Failure to refer to oral surgeon or otherwise provide proper post-procedure care
The patient/plaintiff in this case presented to the defendant general dentist’s office to undergo dental restoration of the distal-occlusal lingual area of tooth #16. During the procedure, a matrix band could not be kept on due to the patient’s tongue and gag reflex, so it was aborted, and the dentist proceeded to extract tooth #16. During the removal of the patient’s tooth, a portion of the maxillary tuberosity also came out. The patient was informed that a piece of his jawbone came out and the tooth socket was packed with gauze, which appeared to control the bleeding.
Following the extraction, the dentist attempted but failed to contact an oral surgeon to evaluate the patient, so the dentist proceeded to take an x-ray of the patient’s jawbone. The dentist then instructed the patient to find an oral surgeon and show it to them for further evaluation.
The patient proceeded to his workplace directly after the procedure. About an hour later, the patient began to bleed profusely enough that blood was filling his mouth and flowing out through both of his nostrils. Despite applying hard pressure, the patient was unable to stop the bleeding, and had to seek immediate medial attention at a local emergency department.
The patient filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against the defendant dentist, alleging that the dentist was negligent in failing to note the patient’s medical history of being on blood thinners. The lawsuit further alleged that the dentist failed to make sure the patient received urgent care to treat the post-extraction bleeding. Due to the low likelihood of the defendant dentist prevailing at trial, the decision was made to pursue a settlement. The plaintiff and defendant reached an undisclosed settlement to resolve this case.
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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