Malpractice may be defined as improper, illegal or negligent treatment or professional activity by a medical professional, or by a different type of professional. Such professionals owe their clients or patients a duty of care, and failure to meet that standard for treatment in their profession, whether due to negligence, or otherwise, may result in injury or loss to the client/patient.
In the case of dental malpractice, for example, a dentist is a licensed medical professional who must perform to the standards of their industry when working with a patient. If, through dental negligence or other illegal act, they cause injury or loss to the patient, the patient may pursue legal action to remedy their loss.
Both the professional relationship between the dentist and the patient, and the causation and nature of the injury/loss must be shown by the injured party in court in order to prove malpractice.
What are Some Examples of Dental Malpractice?
Examples of dental malpractice include:
- Performing the wrong procedure on the patient;
- Anesthesia complications;
- Failure to diagnose oral cancer or other disease;
- Leaving a bandage or other object in a person’s mouth;
- Causing irreparable damage to patient, their teeth or gums;
- Infection; and/or
- Wrongful death.
This list is not exhaustive. Other people, in addition to the dentist, can be held liable for dental malpractice, including dental assistants and office staff.
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How Do Damages Work in a Dental Malpractice Case?
Damages must also be proven by the patient in order to succeed with their malpractice case. They may be physical, financial, or they may be non-economic. Some factors used to calculate dental malpractice damages include:
- The seriousness of the injury or dental error involved;
- Whether the injury or error can be corrected;
- Whether the patient suffered physical pain;
- Whether the injury will affect the patient’s abilities in the future, such as the ability to chew or speak;
- Comparisons with similar cases in that particular practice field;
- The background of the dentist or dental professional being held liable; and
- Whether the patient’s injury was an aggravation of a preexisting condition.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help with a Dental Malpractice Case?
Malpractice cases against health professionals are often serious, as they may involve serious physical injury or financial loss, and, in some cases, death. A personal injury attorney who is experienced with malpractice claims can help you assess whether you have a good claim, and can also assist you with legal proceedings if you file suit.