What is Dental Malpractice?

If you have ever had a dental procedure that has gone wrong, then you are certainly not alone. However, when you can prove that you have suffered as a result of your dentist failing to meet the proper standard of care, then you may be able to sue for dental malpractice.

What is dental malpractice?

Every practicing dentist is charged with a legal duty to comply with a specific standard of care in treating patients. This standard is classed as the same level of care that would be provided by an ordinary dentist with good standing and a similar educational background in your vicinity, in the same or similar circumstances. Dental malpractice is a division of the law that is designed to protect dental patients from receiving sub-standard care.

Why does dental malpractice occur?

Dental malpractice may occur for several reasons. Some dentists may willingly perform dental procedures that are beyond their training and experience, and this could result in disastrous consequences for their patients. Alternatively, a dentist may be distracted or behave in an inappropriate or irresponsible way during a procedure that they do have the training and ability to perform, but this has compromised the quality of their performance.

Types of dental malpractice

There are a wide range of different types of dental malpractice, and they are very much dependent on both the errors made by the dentist, and the variety of injury or damage sustained as a direct result of their failure to provide adequate care.

Some of the most common types of dental malpractice include:

  • Failure to diagnose. This can be anything from minor problems such as cavities or hairline fractures, to serious and even life-threatening problems including oral cancers.
  • Problems resulting from the use of anesthesia.
  • Extraction injuries.
  • Problems resulting from restorative dental treatment.
  • Cosmetic dentistry complications.
  • Failed dental implants.
  • Jaw fractures.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Infection as a result of dental treatment.
  • Performance of unnecessary dental work.
  • Inadequate follow-up care.

As part of their responsibilities, dentists should also fully explain their reasons for recommending certain treatments, make the patient aware of any potential risks or complications, and inform them of any viable alternative treatment options. They also need to obtain consent for each of the procedures that may be performed, regardless of how small.

Unfortunately, a number of dentists fail to meet these requirements, and instead proceed with treatment with a lack of informed consent. Doing so also constitutes dental malpractice.

Statute of limitations for dental malpractice cases

A statute of limitations refers to the deadline within which you much file a lawsuit for dental malpractice. The standard statute of limitations in Arizona is two years from the date of the procedure which caused your injury or condition. However, there is an additional part of the statute of limitations known as the ‘discovery rule’ which is applicable in instances where there was no way that the patient could have reasonably known that he/she may have had a case for dental malpractice. In cases such as these, the statute of limitations comes into effect from the date that that the patient discovered or reasonably should have known that they had a case of dental malpractice.

If you, or someone you love, has suffered pain and ongoing problems as a result of dental treatment, you may be eligible for financial compensation for the damages that you have incurred. Our experienced and knowledgeable dental malpractice attorneys will be delighted to assess your case and advise you if you have reasonable cause for a claim. They will then be able to take the strain out of your compensation case, and work on your behalf to ensure that you are awarded the settlement that you are entitled to.

For more information on dental malpractice cases in Arizona, contact our office today at 602-833-4200.