Common Causes of Dental Malpractice
posted on 1/30/2017 3:45:00 AM
Dentists can face malpractice lawsuits for many reasons.
Like any other medical professional, dentists face an enormous amount of liability when they are treating on a patient. Even the slightest mistake could result in them facing a large medical malpractice lawsuits. There are many instances that could lead to a dentist being targeted in a malpractice suit.
Errors in treatment - One of the most common causes of dental malpractice is simply committing an error during treatment. For example, putting dental implants in a person who is not healthy enough or doesn't have the proper bone structure to accept them could lead to a malpractice lawsuit. This may leave the patient with no implants and a significant medical bill, so they could come after their dentist for those damages.
Not using proper techniques - Failure to use the proper technique can also result in a malpractice lawsuit. This generally results from dentists who aren't trained properly. Improper technique could lead to a painful injury and dental damage that may end up costing a patient money. If that is the case, they could seek damages as a result.
Failure to follow up with treatment - Not following up with patients is another way that dentists could find themselves facing a malpractice lawsuit. If a procedure is completed, dentists should always schedule follow up. This will allow them to know the status of their patient, if they need further treatment and also help them build a good relationship. To avoid lawsuits resulting from failing to follow up, dentists should always contact patients after a procedure and document that conversation, so they have proof of the follow up.
Not referring patients when necessary - In some cases, a dentist will not be able to complete all the necessary procedures to get their patient healthy. That said, there could be times when they have to refer people to specialists. Failure to do so could result in a malpractice lawsuit if the patient suffers damages or losses as a result of this negligence. For example, if a dentist knows a person needs their wisdom teeth out and doesn't refer them to the proper specialist they could find themselves in some trouble.
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Taking on problem patients - When accepting patients, dentists need to be sure they can spot those who are going to bring them trouble. Medical professionals should also look at a person's entire history before taking them on because if they have a past of constant complaints and other issues, dentists could be putting themselves at risk.
While the majority of malpractice claims don't result in a dentist having to pay out damages, all it takes is one to ruin a person's career. That said, these medical professionals should seriously consider purchasing a professional liability insurance policy. This type of insurance can help protect their finances and career should they ever be targeted in a malpractice lawsuit.
Specifically, professional liability insurance helps prevent a lawsuit from being financially damaging by providing assistance for legal and court fees as well as settlement and judgment costs. The policy can also provide policyholders with a lawyer to help with their defense.
Most of the time, dentists will be offered coverage under their employer's umbrella plan. While this certainly can help, it may be limited. The limit of liability could be small and coverage may not even be extended if there is a conflict of interest. With that in mind, dentists should think about a separate individual policy, so they can have an insurance company that will work in their best interests.