What is Dental Negligence?

Dental treatment can be uncomfortable at times and some treatments have longer recovery times than others, but what constitutes dental malpractice or negligence and what recourse do you have when treatment goes wrong?

Dental Negligence and Personal Injury

Dental negligence occurs when a dentist fails to carry out necessary treatment or fails to diagnose a condition, which a dentist would normally be expected to. Malpractice can take the form of inappropriate or substandard work, which may result in a negative impact on the patient. Personal injury in relation to dental treatment is a complex area and can require expert medical opinion in determining the extent of an injury or whether injury has occurred. There are a range of areas where dental negligence or malpractice may come into play.

Misdiagnosis or Non-Diagnosis

Dentists are recognised as medical practitioners under Irish law. As medical experts in their specialised field, dentists are held to high clinical standards and are expected to have the knowledge and competence to assess and evaluate patient symptoms. While a dentist may not be able to diagnose a serious condition on a cursory insepction, they are expected to investigate further any indications that a serious illness or condition is present. 

A dentist is usually the first port of call for a person who has a series of symptoms such as persistent mouth ulcers, constant oral pain or unexplained lumps. It is the responsibility of a patient's dentist to assess and diagnose or send for further diagnosis, when prolonged or concerning symptoms are present. Failure to diagnose or futher investigate symptoms which are associated with conditions such as oral cancer, may constitute negligence. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can be serious issues. If the condition should ordinarily, have been picked up, but wasn't, there may be a basis for a personal injury claim.

Substandard Treatment

There may be cases where dental treatment didn't have the results you may have expected, but there is a difference between disappointment with treatment and treatment which can leave a negative lasting affect. Injury does not always have to be physical; it can also be psychological. Patients who endure "botched" treatments may suffer from anxiety or stress as a direct result of inappropriate or substandard treatment.

If you have had work done for cosmetic reasons, you should expect that it is is carried out to the highest standards, as is the case for any dental treatment.

Patients may have also have suffered personal injury for a range of reasons including:

  • treatment which was carried out unnecessarily, resulting in negative affects
  • dental work which has an impact on appearance, causing psychological stress or illness
  • work carried out has resulted in pain, far above what would be the norm
  • a loss in dental function; this could affect biting, speech or other functions

Symptoms to Watch Out For

If you have ongoing pain in your mouth or throat, weight loss, ulcers that won't go or lumps in your mouth, it is important to get them checked out. You should expect that your dentist will put your mind at ease, by making sure that all possible causes are investigated. Hopefully any symptoms will not be as a result of a serious illness or condition and you can treat them without too much inconvenience. If you are worried about cancer risks, for example, make sure to let your dentist know. The Irish Cancer Society has an excellent page on mouth cancer risks and awareness which is a great resource. If you do have worries, make sure to talk to your dentist. It can be give you the reassurance that you need.

Personal Injury Claims

Most dental practitioners do their very best to deliver the best care to patients. There are times however, when they make mistakes, misdiagnose or late diagnose.

At Pilar, our solicitors, work with medical experts from Ireland and abroad. Together we will assess the legal and medical aspects of your dental treatment or the lack of care and attention that has occurred. We have the ability to obtain and examine your medical records or history of treatment. Our experts are thorough and we will do everything to make sure that you have all the information and the best advice available.

For more information view our Guide on Misdiagnosis and Late Diagnosis.

Contacting Pilar Lawyers

If you have suffered an injury following misdiagnosis, late diagnosis or substandard dental treatment, you may have a case to make a medical negligence* claim. At Pilar our solicitors will advise you on whether we think you have grounds to make a claim. We will give you honest and expert opinion about all aspects of your case, using clear and jargon free language.

You can call us on 01 2943846 to discuss your case in confidence.

You can also contact us by our easy to use form on our homepage

 

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