Dental overtreatment can be malpractice. In a 2023 case widely reported by CNN, the Huffington Post, and in People magazine, a Minnesota woman sued her dentist for dental overtreatment following a dental office visit in 2020 in which she claims he performed 32 dental procedures in a single day. The procedures included multiple root canals (4), fillings (20) and crowns (8).

WHAT CONSTITUTES DENTAL OVERTREATMENT?

Dental overtreatment is determined by the opinions of dental expert witnesses. Determining if the dental treatment prescribed and performed by a dentist, oral surgeon, periodontist, or other dental specialist is appropriate will depend on a number of factors. These include the obvious, such as the patient’s dental condition and the procedures to be performed. It might also include not so obvious medical factors.

Because doctors and dentists have specialized training and education, people often place trust in their chosen medical and dental professionals. They assume that the doctor or dentist would not make a recommendation unless it was in the patient’s best interest. Sometimes, however, healthcare professionals violate that trust by recommending treatment that is not justified or necessary. These recommendations may occur due to negligence by the dental provider or, sometimes, when the dental provider’s motivation is primarily financial for him or herself.

DENTAL OVERTREATMENT VS TREATMENT WITHIN THE STANDARD OF CARE

A treatment plan for a college-aged young person that specifies the removal of all four “third molars,” also known as “wisdom teeth,” can be a procedure that is appropriate and is commonly supported by the evidence. Performed within the standard of care, there is nothing inherently wrong with extracting four wisdom teeth in one day.

On the other hand, removal of otherwise healthy teeth in a much older adult patient with no medical indication for the treatment could be the basis for a dental malpractice case. Dental experts will need to review the radiographs to determine whether the teeth were healthy and whether the dental recommendations were appropriate for the patient given the patients dental and underlying medical conditions.

CAN I SUE MY DENTIST FOR OVERTREATMENT?

Can you sue your dentist for overtreatment of you? Each situation is different, which is why all medical malpractice cases, including dental malpractice cases require a medical expert to evaluate the complete record and determine if the healthcare provider failed to provide treatment that meets the standard of care

HOW WE EVALUATE DENTAL MALPRACTICE CASES

Part of the role of the dental malpractice lawyer is to help potential clients evaluate the validity of their concerns.  This judgment is based on dental records and other evidence available. We have experience going through radiographs and medical records, and understanding the line between necessary treatment and overtreatment. We also have medical experts who can assist in our review process. One thing that you can be sure of is that we will not move forward with a case without medical expert support that it is a strong case of dental malpractice.

The first step is to contact us for a free case evaluation. Our skilled intake staff will assist in the initial interview process. We will help you to gather the necessary records for our attorneys to review. We will complete a thorough investigation once we have the complete dental records including x-rays, CT scans and other related records), and we will then recommend a course of action.

Sometimes that course of action is to file a dental malpractice lawsuit.

Other times, unfortunately, the economics of the situation lead us to the conclusion that it does not make sense to bring the claim because it might cost more to prove what happened and why it was wrong than we can project the dental malpractice insurance carrier would be willing to pay to settle the claim.

STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS APPLY

Dental malpractice cases have statutes of limitations, like all types of malpractice cases. Suing a dentist for excessive treatment is no different. The length of time to file a lawsuit for damages resulting from dental overtreatment depends on a number of factors. These include the jurisdiction, as well as other individual circumstances.

Don’t delay and miss your filing deadline! Call us at (703) 638-7717 and dial 9 for intake.

 

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