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Suing a dentist for malpractice. Do I have a case?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by srhoades, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. srhoades

    srhoades

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    My wife needed an inlay on her rear molar. During the procedure there was an assistant from another office. After the inlay was on they went to clear the excess glue and it had already cemented. The assistant from the other office noted, verbally, that they glue was not being stored properly. It should have been refrigerated and it was not, hence the glue dried when it should not have. They then had to, for 20 minutes, saw all the excess glue out from between the two teeth.

    My wife had pain right from the get go. She went back a week later and they made some adjustments to the inlay. She still had pain so she went back a week and a half after that and they adjusted it again. She still had pain and she went back and the dentists said adjusted it would not do any good so she was referred to an endodontist.

    She just returned from the endodontist and he says she needs a root canal. My wife explained what happened and he refused to give his opinion to why a root canal was needed, he claimed he was only giving his opinion on what was wrong. Although he did admit that mechanical vibration can can cause irritation and the need for a root canal.

    The office at first is denying they are responsible, but then offers 15% off the root canal after my wife again explains they are responsible. They did say sometimes you do need a root canal after an inlay due to the mechanical vibrations, but would not admit their error in improperly storing the glue and the 20 minutes of sawing was excessive mechanical vibrations.

    So I know many of you are going to tell me to contact a lawyer, but I do not want to waste their or my time if I am being unreasonable.
     
  2. jason10mm

    jason10mm NRA-GOA-TSRA

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    Did she sign an informed consent that stated the procedure may or may not resolve her problem and that a root canal or other "more invasive" procedure may still be required to resolve her pain?

    Trying to sue based on the heresay of "another assistant" is futile, IMHO. Perhaps the glue used in this office is different from what they use in her office. How can you prove it was stored improperly?

    Maybe you could make a complaint to whatever state board of dentisty you have so they can apply pressure. Or your wife can have the tooth pulled, because that is probably the standard resolution in most of the world. Otherwise I would chalk it up to a more bothersome course than initially thought that will still end up with a perfectly cosmetically pleasing result at a bit of increased cost to you.
     

  3. ChuteTheMall

    ChuteTheMall Wallbuilder and Weapon Bearer

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    Why ask for legal advice from non-lawyers?

    If you have a case, a lawyer will see a potential profit.
    If not, a lawyer should advise you not to proceed.
    In either case, the initial consultation should cost you nothing but a little time for a conversation.

    So, before suing for malpractice, consult a lawyer.:okie:
     
  4. 8-Ball

    8-Ball Old Soul

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    You're going to sue them because their "excessive mechanical vibrations" may or may not caused your wife's tooth pain? Because of heresay from an assistant from another office saying that the glue wasn't stored properly? Oh boy. :upeyes:
     
  5. jellis11

    jellis11 Yippee-ki-yay

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    sometimes things just happen. It's the nature of doing a procedure on the human body.
     
  6. 8-Ball

    8-Ball Old Soul

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    Exactly.
     
  7. iluv2viddyfilms

    iluv2viddyfilms

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    I would say ask if there is evidence that the glue drying too soon and the subsequent removal of the glue between the teeth caused the need for the root canal. If so you might have a case, but even then a verbal overhearing of a conversation that the glue was not stored properly is hardly evidence of this.

    Also what was the inlay for? A cavity? Was a root canal needed prior to the operation and was it a misdiagnosis?

    Based on what you said, there's no way a court would decide malpractice unless there is evidence or different information.

    That being said, it's frivolous malpractice suits that cause super high costs at doctors and dentists which then cause insurance companies to pay which then causes Obama Care and my company paying higher rates in order to cover the costs of an overweight woman with type 2 diabetes who smokes and hasn't cumulatively moved more than a mile on her feet in the past six months.
     
  8. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA Get off my lawn

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    Ur F'd

    I had a dentist put some stupid fakeness on my side teef to extra-bill Delta Dental. (What is that procedure called - usually done on front teef to fill in gaps.)

    Anyhow, it's a stupid thing. And the dentist got tossed off of Delta Dental b/c of shady practices.

    3 other dentists commented that there was no discernible problem, YET NONE OF THEM WOULD SAY IT WAS INCORRECT.

    I dislike them protecting their own. I get it can open them up to some liability. But it didn't cost ME anything and it would be OK to confirm that this guy did a shoddy job. Hell, they don't know. Maybe I got it done in Calcutta or something. ????
     
  9. schild

    schild

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    No dentist will ever say another dentist screwed up.
     
  10. banjobob

    banjobob

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    Disregard the temp assistant's comment. It may be a good idea to refrigerate most cements but that is not why it took 20 minutes to clean the excess cement. Twenty minutes is long time to clean off the excess but it has happened to me before and to all other dentists at one time or another. If the cement is removed too early one also removes some of the cement sealing the margins, remove it too late and ask your wife what happens.

    The cement used was probably light cured, my assistant knows exactly how long to shine the light on uncured resin cement so that the cement is hard enough but not too hard, I then clean off the excess and then we go back to perform a final cure with the curing light. My assistant knows how long this takes because of trial and error. The difference of 1-2 seconds is all it takes from no problem to the type of mess your wife experienced. While its not the assistant's fault, she probably cured the cement too long. Every curing light is of a different intensity and every cement has different properties.

    Your wife's tooth was already damaged, why else would she need dental work if it was without flaw? Im making an assumption that the work was done because of 1) large existing filling 2) cavity 3) crack. any one of these can lead to a root canal. One study I remember put the number of teeth needing a root canal at some time in the life of the tooth following a full crown at 7%. Some studies have that number much higher and some lower. The take home message is: root canals happen.

    The mechanical vibration the endodontist spoke of was referring to vibrations from the dental handpiece while preparing the tooth, not a dental scaler removing the cement. As much as it sucks, anytime a tooth is touched with a dental but there is a risk of a root canal. The bigger the defect in the tooth, the more likely to need one and the smaller the defect, the smaller the risk. But there still exists a risk.

    The things that a dentist could do to cause a root canal in a tooth that other wise would have been fine, would be to take too much tooth structure away maybe even expose the pulp or overheat the tooth during the preparation (major reason water is used while "drilling")

    But lets assume it was 100% the dentists fault what are your wife's damages? cost of root canal? pain? etc. what would a jury award couple of thousand dollars at the most. What would your legal bills be. I believe the burden would be on you and your expert witnesses to prove it was the dentists fault. This would mean thousands and thousands of dollars in fees. When I have done this type of work I charge $500/hr minimum of 8 hours, Its expensive to have an expert witness close his office for the day to sit in a court room, or fly an expert from out of town. Bottom line its not worth it.

    The 15% off was not an admission of fault, it was probably more of "its not worth arguing over" and trying to please your wife.

    Having said all this, who the hell knows what happened. There is a lot of crappy dentistry done every day, I see my fair share coming into my office. Some done by very well respected dentists in town (this usually only means they are pleasant and remember the patient's name or what school their children go to.)
     
  11. gigab1te

    gigab1te

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    Since you have committed the unholy sin of asking for legal advise from unqualified strangers on the internet instead of a real lawyer from your area that you trust, I'll chime in with my two cents.

    Regardless of whether you even have a claim, how will you find a lawyer to represent you?

    It seems you basically have two options: 1. You need to find a lawyer who you are willing to pay by the hour (which could run into the many tens of thousands of dollars, and will require a huge retainer) or 2. You need a lawyer who would take it on a contingency. I've heard lawyers tend to only like contingency cases where there is ridiculously clear liability and/or there are massive damages (i.e. the dentist accidentally cut off your wife's tongue (which may or may not be a good thing as far as you are concerned), or left her paralyzed from an overdose of anesthesia, etc).

    If you find a lawyer, he will need to find and hire a qualified dentist who is willing to testify as an expert witness that: 1. your wife's dentist screwed up and 2. the screw up caused her injury. As noted in other threads, dentists don't like to testify against other dentists (I imagine doing so makes for some hurt feelings at the local country club).

    If it was me, I'd take whatever discount your current dentist is willing to give you, and go see someone else in the future.
     
  12. bobby_w

    bobby_w Alienigena Platinum Member

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    This all sounds like Anti-Dentitism.
     
  13. eracer

    eracer Where's my EBT?

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    Buy wife a Bravia.

    (Sorry...)
     
  14. Annhl8rX

    Annhl8rX

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    They're all a bunch of anti-dentites.
     
  15. srhoades

    srhoades

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    I did consult a lawyer. Basically what it comes down to is it is cost prohibitive to seek such a small amount of damages. He did say I could file a claim (if this dentist is registered) to the California Dental Association and ask for a peer review and request the cost of the root canal. Other option is small claims.

    So I am basically going to do what gigab1te suggested, get the biggest discount I can, get the procedure done, and go elsewhere from here on out.
     
  16. ChuteTheMall

    ChuteTheMall Wallbuilder and Weapon Bearer

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    [​IMG]
     
  17. 6StringGeek

    6StringGeek full-time n00b

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    Oh Jerry. :whistling:
     
  18. napp32

    napp32

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    Many professionals will not testify against other professionals; because they think, "There but for the grace of God go I".

    It's similar to the unwritten Officer's code in the military...."All the ladies are virtuous; and all the brothers are honorable."
     
  19. PuroMexicano

    PuroMexicano VIVA MEXICO !!!

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    Suing a dentist for a root canal, now I think I've heard it all regarding the happy-go-sue-someone culture
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  20. matt_lowry123

    matt_lowry123

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    You can try. You'll end up spending some money, but go for it.