There are numerous scenarios where a dentist can be accused of negligence, and these allegations may or may not have merit. Professional liability insurance, subject to the policy wordings, gives support to dentists to respond to allegations regardless of their merit.
Some of the most common negligence claims made against dentists include the following:
1. Poor quality: faulty crowns and bridges; fractured root tips remaining after extraction; root fractures following extraction; and chemical burns.
2. Inattention to the patient and/or patient records: extraction of the wrong tooth; failure to diagnose cavities and periodontal disease; problems associated with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder; cuts to the patient’s lip or tongue; fractured file or reamers tips left during root canal therapy; paresthesia due to extrusion of endodontic medicaments and sealers; and problems associated with anaesthesia.
3. Communication breakdowns between the dentist and the patient: failure to obtain informed consent to perform a procedure, medical complications arising from failure to obtain or update medical history; and failure to inform the patient about a problem during a dental procedure or treatment.
4. Injuries consequent to treatment: infection after tooth removal; and aspiration of foreign objects such as crowns.
5. General dentists taking on work that requires a specialist: failure to refer patients to specialists to obtain second opinions, and performing work outside of the general dentist’s expertise.
Source : Dolden Wallace Folick LLP