Oral and Maxillofacial surgery is an important medical field that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, defects, and injuries of the mouth, jaws, and facial structures. While oral and maxillofacial surgeries are usually performed without complications, there are instances of dental or medical malpractice that occur during oral and maxillofacial surgery.
How Does Oral and Maxillofacial Malpractice Occur?
In this article, we will look at some ways that oral and maxillofacial surgery can result in malpractice, including the various forms such malpractice might take. We will also examine what can be done for those who have been victims of oral and maxillofacial surgery malpractice, and what aspects of oral and maxillofacial surgery can lead to a malpractice lawsuit that has merit.
What is Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?
Oral and maxillofacial surgery focuses on issues involving the mouth, teeth, and jaw, including facial reconstruction and the repair of facial trauma. It is often performed in conjunction with other types of surgery, such as plastic surgery and ear, nose, and throat surgeries.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is highly specialized and requires surgeons with a thorough understanding of bone and soft tissue anatomy. Many oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete both dental school and medical school and end us with both a DDS or DMD degree and an MD or DO degree. Common maxillofacial procedures include jaw reshaping, correcting facial deformities, or conducting reconstructive surgery, dental implant surgery, as well as treating injuries associated with the face or jaw.
Common Types of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Errors
Inadequate Preoperative Assessment
Some oral and maxillofacial surgeons seem to be in a hurry to perform surgery on patients as quickly as they can. Whether this is due to financial pressures to generate revenues or just an attitude, this approach can lead to substandard care.
Before operating upon a patient, the reasonable oral surgeon must make sure that they have adequate information about the patient’s symptoms, that they have performed all indicated testing, and that they have reached a solid diagnosis justifying a surgical recommendation. It may be necessary for the surgeon to order a special radiograph, known as a CBCT, which captures the dental anatomy in 3D.
One of the most important things an oral and maxillofacial surgeon must do is to tell a patient when they should not have surgery. An oral surgeon who fails to do so and proceeds with a surgery the patient does not need may be breaching of the standard of care.
Negligent Surgical Procedure
Negligence in the oral surgery operating room happens more often than many people expect. Poor communication between surgical staff can lead to wrong-sided surgery. Poor judgment or technique in oral and maxillofacial surgery can lead to a dental nerve injury, facial disfigurement, or other injuries. Failure to recognize and respond appropriately to patient vital signs, or a lack of proper patient monitoring can even lead to a wrongful death case. If you think you may have been the victim of negligence during an oral and maxillofacial surgical procedure, it is important to seek advice from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
The risks associated with administering anesthesia improperly cannot be understated. In many oral surgeries, instead of having an anesthesiologist as part of the team, the oral surgeon will administer their own anesthesia and be responsible for all of the anesthesia monitoring.
Whether there is an anesthesiologist present or not, the doctor who serves as the anesthesia provider must ensure the patient is properly sedated throughout a surgical procedure. Experience and training are essential in making sure that the correct dosages and techniques are used for each particular patient and procedure. When proper doses are not administered, the wrong type of medications used, or inadequate monitoring performed, the patient can suffer from inadequate sedation or excessive sedation. They could fall into a coma or even die.
In addition to the risks of general anesthesia, inappropriate local anesthetic techniques used by the oral and maxillofacial surgeon can cause injury to the delicate trigeminal nerves in the mouth and jaw, including the lingual nerve and the inferior alveolar nerve.
Mismanaged Postoperative Care
Post-operative care is an essential part of the surgical experience, yet it is frequently overlooked. Even when oral and maxillofacial surgeons provide excellent pre-operative care, if postoperative care is mismanaged, there is a risk of serious complications and even death. Many patients are familiar with the feeling of being rushed out the door after a procedure as the staff rushes to get to the next patient.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery postoperative errors may include discharging the patient too quickly, failing to recognize medications that may interact in a dangerous way, and not identifying potential signs of infection or other complications in a timely manner. It is important for oral and maxillofacial surgeons to take the time to properly evaluate patients postoperatively in order to ensure they are recovering safely and appropriately.
Preparing for Legal Action
Considering legal action can be intimidating and overwhelming. With the right team and good preparation, however, it doesn’t have to be. If you are considering taking legal action against an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself and increase your chances of success.
- Gather all relevant documents, relevant medical records, and any digital files such as x-rays or radiological studies that may be related to your case.
- Document any conversations or correspondence that you have with the oral and maxillofacial surgeon or any other treaters related to the issue.
- Make a list of the names of all treating doctors (and/or facility) where you were injured, as well as anyone you have seen in follow-up for the injury.
Finally, contact an experienced malpractice attorney to assess the merits of your case and decide if legal action can be taken.
- anesthesia-4607287_1280_Ri_Ya: Ri Ya