Tooth Dropped Into Patient’s Mouth – Pneumonia, Bronchoscopy

The plaintiff was a man in his mid-40s who presented to the defendant oral surgeon for full mouth extraction of his teeth. The plaintiff alleged that during the procedure, the defendant dropped an extracted tooth into his mouth, and he swallowed it. The plaintiff claimed that he notified the defendant that he thought that he had swallowed a tooth, and she ignored him.

Two and a half weeks after the procedure, the plaintiff presented to the hospital complaining of coughing and pain in the left side of his chest. He was diagnosed and treated for pneumonia.

Three weeks later, he again presented to the hospital with the same symptoms, and was again treated for pneumonia. Three weeks following that visit, the plaintiff’s symptoms of coughing and pain in the left side of his chest persisted. The plaintiff underwent a CT scan that revealed a tooth in his left lung. He was admitted and underwent a bronchoscopy to remove the tooth.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant should have used a throat guard and a high-suction tube to prevent anything from falling into his mouth during the procedure. He alleged that a throat guard was not used, and that the dental assistant who was holding the high-suction tube left the room while the procedure was being performed, leaving the defendant unassisted.

The defendant asserted that his assistant did not leave the procedure room, the high-suction tube was continually used throughout the procedure, and the defendant did not drop a tooth into the plaintiff’s mouth. The defendant asserted that the plaintiff had to have swallowed the tooth before the procedure.

A verdict of $400,000 was returned, including approximately $75,000 for medical costs, $225,000 for pain and suffering, and $100,000 for loss of normal life.

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