A Florida dental practice is concerned with many things: marketing, treatment, hiring, budgets, forecasts, staff issues, etc. It is so easy for a dental malpractice lawsuit to bring a healthy Florida dental practice to a screeching halt. Dental malpractice claims are awful, not only in terms of time and expense, but also in the emotional damage to the dentist, his family and his staff. Avoiding a dental malpractice insurance lawsuit needs to be at the top of every dental practice’s mind every day and with every patient. One slip in the quality of care can ruin a dentist’s reputation in a community and cause irreversible damage to him personally.
A dental malpractice insurance lawsuit results from a dentist “deviating from the dental standard of care in the community in which he or she practices and, as a result of that deviation from the standard, a patient is injured”. While nothing can prevent a disatisfied patient from suing a Florida dentist, there are certain practices that open the dentist to a dental malpractice lawsuit. These are:
Failure to fully spell out all the possible treatment options and risks for a patient. This failure, which could happen if the dentist is trying to save the patient on the cost of treatment or if a treatment option is risky or outside the dentist’s level of comfort can eventually result in the patient making a poor decision on the direction of his or her dental care. It is vital for the Florida dentist to clearly communicate with their patient and to follow up if a treatment plan is not resolved.
Failure to diagnose a problem and failure to treat properly. This could include claims of tooth damage or nerve injury from botched restorations, root canals, surgical placement of implants, anesthesia, veneers, crowns, and more. Patients may also go against the dentist if he or she fails to detect oral cancer, resulting in huge and expensive consequences. Even failure to spot tooth decay can lead to greater problems down the road, especially if the patient does not come in regularly for a dental checkup. Misdiagnoses can be incorrect, overlooked, or late—all creating unforeseen consequences.
Failure to refer to a specialist. Some procedures are best treated by a dental specialist. The general dentist may not be fully qualified to treat a more complicated procedure, such as surgical placement of an implant or a root canal procedure. Failure to refer to a specialist can cause needless complications and spoil the dentist’s reputation in their community, especially with the specialists.
Failure of a dental product. Even though a dentist is not responsible for the manufacture of a dental produce such as a prosthetic device or an implant, failure of that product to perform properly can result in a very dissatisfied patient and, hence, a dental malpractice lawsuit.
John Gracey Backer, CPA
John Gracey Backer, CPA, is the Treasurer of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance for the Healthcare Provider. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 128, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.