Dental Malpractice Case: When Tooth Extraction Errors are Fatal
While dentists will always try to preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible, there are situations where extraction is the only or best course of action. Countless teeth are removed every single year, with an estimated 10 million being wisdom teeth – the teeth at the back of the mouth that come through in our late teenage or adult years. There is a range of reasons why an extraction is recommended, including:
- Extensive decay means it isn’t possible to save the tooth.
- Severe gum disease.
- Infection that has penetrated the root of the tooth.
- Necrosis (death of the tooth).
- Overcrowding of the teeth, meaning that there isn’t enough room for one or more.
In theory, a dental extraction is a common and simple procedure that is performed countless times every year around the world. Unfortunately, the number of dental negligence claims relating to extractions is increasing and a percentage of these relate to fatalities that occur due to dental malpractice.
Here are some of the most common fatal errors associated with a tooth extraction.
Negligence related to anesthetic
Unfortunately, the majority of deaths that occur during or after a tooth extraction are usually related to the anesthesia (IV or general anesthetic) due to the invasive nature of the procedure. Anesthesia must be very carefully controlled. Too little, and you could experience severe pain during your procedure, but too much and you could also have a reaction to the drugs used. Patients should be thoroughly evaluated for their suitability for anesthesia before undergoing their procedure to make sure that the risks associated with its use are low and outweighed by the benefits of the procedure. The most common negligence issue is related to an overdose of anesthetic, which can lead to neurological damage, spinal cord damage, heart issues, and death.
Oxygen deprivation while under general anesthetic is another form of dental malpractice that can result in permanent disability or death. Anesthesia must be carefully controlled and patients must be monitored by the anesthetist. Any loss of concentration or failure to do this would be deemed negligence.
Fatal blood loss
Bleeding at the extraction site following tooth removal is extremely common, and in most cases, will stop naturally fairly quickly. Unsurprisingly, the more teeth that you have removed at one time, the greater this amount of bleeding is likely to be and the more effort may be required to keep the bleeding under control.
Some drugs are known for increasing your risk of excessive bleeding. These drugs are referred to as anticoagulants and antiplatelets and include aspirin, enoxaparin, heparin, warfarin, apixaban, rivaroxaban, and edoxaban. Although your dentist should speak to you about any medications that you are taking prior to your extraction, if they fail to do this and you are taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets, you could be at much higher risk of experiencing uncontrollable bleeding. Unfortunately, there have been cases of individuals taking these medications who have suffered fatal bleeding following tooth extraction.
If someone you love has suffered a fatal tooth extraction error, you may have a case for dental malpractice and be able to claim compensation. It won’t bring them back, but it may help ease some of the financial burdens that you may be facing. Our compassionate and knowledgeable team will be happy to review your case and advise you if you could make a claim. Please call us today at (602) 833-4200 to schedule an appointment.