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Malpractice Hurts. Even the Small Mistakes

When we think of 'malpractice' we normally assume that the doctor who has been accused of negligence has done something really awful that could have permanent effects on a patient's life and cause bodily injuries; perhaps even death.

We hardly think of malpractice as something related to dentists. What has a dentist got to do after all? Correct our teeth? And didn't the biology class you took in high school tell you that your teeth are one of the hardiest parts of your anatomy? They do seem pretty hard to mess up. Until, along comes a dentist who does exactly that.

How a General Dentist made a Mess of a Simple Procedure

Let us review this case of a 15 year old dental patient who went to an orthodontist for getting braces. Her orthodontist pointed out that she had some extra teeth in her mouth which needed to be removed before the braces could be put in. So, the orthodontist wrote out a referral to a general dentist asking for the required treatment. Some days later when the patient went back to her orthodontist, he realized that two of the patient's permanent teeth on her lower jaw were missing. And, these were not the teeth that the orthodontist had specifically asked the general dentist to remove!

The orthodontist took an X-ray of the patient's jaw to confirm his suspicions. He even checked the referral he had sent to the general dentist where he had specified exactly which teeth needed to be plucked out for the orthodontic treatment to be successful. All signs pointed to just one fact-the general dentist had made a horrible mistake and taken out the patient's permanent teeth which never should have been touched. The general dentist therefore, was at fault for having violated the basic safety rules and basic standard of care.

He clearly did not know anything about the anatomy of the jaw and was obviously confused about what was expected of him. What he should have done is that he should have asked an experienced doctor to help him out with the case and not tried to extract the patient's teeth on his own. But despite realizing that he was at sea, the general dentist decided to go ahead and ended up causing the patient more harm than good.

Don't Sweep the Small Mistakes Under the Rug

Now this may not seem like a huge issue at first glance. But think again. The patient lost two permanent teeth which were needed for her orthodontic treatment, but because of the dentist's mistake she would now have to go for a more expensive and longer treatment. And she may even have to get implants done to replace the permanent teeth she lost. If the implants fail; and there's a fair chance that they may, then she would need further treatment to correct that failure.

If you have any doubts about the standard of care you have been provided by your doctor, do not let the matter rest without a thorough investigation. Even a minor mistake made by a doctor (a dentist in this case) can prove to be costly in the future. You owe it you yourself to makes sure you are given the best of care, always.

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