Failure to Refer Man with Lesions for Biopsy – Oral Cancer – Results in $500,000 Settlement

The plaintiff, a male in his late forties, went to the defendant dentist with lower right jaw discomfort which was relieved with aspirin. The plaintiff had not received dental treatment for two years prior to this initial appointment.


In the early spring, the defendant began treating the plaintiff with a series of cleanings, scalings, fillings, crowns, root canals and extractions. The treatment extended into mid-December of that year. The plaintiff’s lower jaw complaints continued, and he claimed that he had lesions during this time which came and went. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant never investigated the lesions nor referred him for biopsy of the lesions.


The plaintiff was subsequently diagnosed with Stage II to Stage III squamous cell oral cancer. He underwent radiation and chemotherapy and was given a twenty to thirty percent chance of reoccurrence.


The plaintiff claimed that he should have been referred for a biopsy of the lesions. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff had no signs or symptoms of classic squamous cell cancer and that the plaintiff improved with treatment. The defendant argued that lesions sometimes appear as a result of the treatment the plaintiff was undergoing. A $500,000 settlement was reached.


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