The Maine dental malpractice attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates are dedicated to helping patients injured by dental malpractice. We are leaders in personal injury and medical malpractice law. Our firm provides conscientious representation to individuals and families throughout Maine.
Dental malpractice refers to any negligent act that breaches a dentist’s duty of care to the patient. This may include careless conduct by the dentist, assistant, or dental hygienist. Like other medical professionals, dentists also make mistakes and are legally liable for their conduct. The error does not have to be intentional, but may result from some recklessness that ultimately harms the patient. As supervisors, dentists are also liable for the negligent conduct of their agents. This means they are responsible for the negligent acts of the dental assistants and hygienists they employ. This includes failure to follow protocol for cleaning instruments, work spaces, and protecting the patient from harm.
Common examples of dental malpractice include:
- Overloading a sterilization chamber
- The improper administration of anesthetic
- Failing to detect a sterilizer malfunction
- Insufficient cleaning time or temperature
- Negligent operation (root canals, crowns)
- Fraudulent billing for services that were never performed
- Contamination of drawers, handles, or countertops
- Reusing instruments coated with blood or saliva
- Performing unnecessary cosmetic or dental procedures
- Improper use of an autoclave, other sterilization techniques
Dental professionals have a duty to provide their patients with a certain level of care. The required level is determined by community standards and what would constitute “reasonable” conduct among practitioners in the same field. When dentists fail to sterilize instruments or make egregious errors causing patients harm, they fall below the legal standard of care. This “breach” of duty is known as negligence. Medical malpractice law holds dentists and other health care providers liable for any harm caused by their negligence.
There are many types of “compensable” injuries, from chronic bleeding or infection caused by a botched procedure to the contraction of a life-threatening illness through contaminated instruments. The spread of infection and disease is especially prevalent in the dental field because the mouth area is full of vessels. The sharp instruments dentists use clean, drill, and check cavities are often coated with blood and saliva from other patients and later reused. This is why dentists and hygienists have specific procedures to disinfect tools. They are also required to comply with universal protocol to change gloves and sterilize work areas between patients.
Dental malpractice can result in severe harm. A failure to wear gloves or properly sterilize instruments contributes to contagion of blood-borne pathogens. The transmission of bacteria or a virus may make patients sick. In some cases, this may cause a simple cold or flu, but in rare cases, patients may also contract HIV. Any cut in the gums or around the mouth area is an entry point for infection and bleeding is common during routine dental cleanings. Dentists must also receive the patient’s informed consent before performing any procedure involving anesthetic or minor surgery. Any negligence in the administration of analgesic or during the operation can result in malpractice liability. Patients do not have to show a new injury to recover; any unexplained pain, infection, or discomfort constitutes harm. Leaving the patient in a worsened condition than before the procedure may also indicate an injury caused by negligence.
If you were injured by dental malpractice, contact the experienced Maine dental malpractice lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates today. We have successfully handled all types of dental and medical malpractice cases, recovering substantial verdicts for clients throughout Maine. Our results-driven team of attorneys and consultants thoroughly evaluate the merits of every case. We are often able to obtain a handsome settlement from the negligent party without having to go to court. But if a settlement agreement is not satisfactory, our renowned advocates are not afraid to litigate your case at trial. At Peter Thompson & Associates, we are committed to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call (800) 804-2004 or contact us online.