Dentistry Malpractice Medical Negligence

Dental Negligence / Malpractice Claims

At Hussey Fraser, we understand that dental treatment can be daunting and unpleasant. When dental negligence occurs, the consequences for patients can be significant and expensive. A dental negligence claim can be made when a mistake by a Dentist causes you injury or disfigurement.

Understanding Dental Negligence claims

Dental health is vital to our overall well-being, confidence and comfort. Whether the purpose of your dental work is cosmetic, restorative or general oral health, we trust dentists and dental professionals to carry out treatment in a safe and professional manner to the highest medical standards.

Under the Medical Practitioners Act 2017, Dentists in Ireland are legally recognised medical practitioners and are obliged to practice to the highest medical standards.

While the majority of dental professionals are committed to delivering exceptional care, mistakes can and do happen. When dental negligence occurs, the consequences for patients can be significant and expensive.

The most common dental negligence claims arise from:

  • Failed fittings
  • Root canal treatments
  • Extractions causing damage to both mouth and face. These can take extensive treatment costs to restore
  • Incorrect tooth extractions
  • Poorly installed veneers

A dental negligence claim can be made when a mistake by a Dentist causes you injury or disfigurement. While damage to teeth and gums are the primary driver of most dental claims, claims can also involve injury beyond these to the tongue, nerves and face.

Dental claims can also arise not just from errors in treatment but from failure to diagnose medical conditions such as

  • tooth decay
  • gum disease
  • oral/mouth cancer
  • ulcers

Typically, these result in delayed or missed treatment opportunities for the claimant and result in considerable anxiety or pain.

Types of Dental Negligence Claims

Dental negligence claims can be categorised as dental malpractice or clinical negligence.

Dental malpractice encompasses errors or substandard practices related to specific dental procedures or treatments.

Clinical negligence often involves failures in diagnosis, hygiene, and patient care.

These categories can sometimes overlap, and specific cases might involve elements from both clinical negligence and dental malpractice depending on the individual circumstances. Ultimately, they all result in pain/discomfort, further complications and unnecessary costs to the claimant.

Typical examples of each are:

Dental malpractice:

Failure to diagnose dental conditions:
Failure to accurately diagnose dental issues, leading to inappropriate treatment or delayed care.

Mismanagement of tooth decay/gum disease:
Failure to properly address and manage decay or periodontal gum disease, leading to worsening conditions.

Incorrect teeth extractions:
Extracting the wrong tooth or performing extractions incorrectly, causing pain or further complications.

Retained roots during tooth extractions:
Leaving fragments of the tooth in the gums after extraction, causing pain or potential infections.

Poorly positioned implants or orthodontics:
Placing implants or orthodontic devices in incorrect positions, leading to complications or discomfort to the patient.

Cosmetic dental issues:
Damage or poor appearance resulting from cosmetic dental treatments.

Incorrect administration of anaesthesia:
Mistakes in delivering anaesthesia during dental procedures.

Ineffective treatment of dental conditions:
A treatment provided doesn't effectively address the dental problem.

Inadequate/negligent root canal treatment:
Poorly performed root canal procedures leading to complications.

Failed implant work:
Implant procedures that fail to integrate properly or result in complications.

Inadequate fillings or crowns:
Substandard fillings or crowns that cause issues or fail to function as expected.

Veneer issues:
Problems arising from fitting veneers incorrectly or using improper techniques, causing pain or discomfort.

Injuries from swallowed instruments:
Cuts or damage caused by accidentally swallowing dental tools or instruments.

Improper use of whitening chemicals:
Incorrect application causing permanent damage to gums or lips.

Clinical negligence:

Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose:
Incorrectly diagnosing conditions or failure to diagnose medical conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease or oral cancer. This can lead to unnecessary treatments or complications due to delayed treatment.

Gum disease mismanagement:
Injury to gums as a result of a gingivectomy procedure. Failure to diagnose or treat gum disease properly, leading to complications and pain.

Allergic reactions:
Adverse reactions to dental drugs caused by allergies to medications prescribed by the dentist.

Infections from unhygienic conditions:
Contracting infections due to poor hygiene practices within the dental environment.

Lingual nerve injuries:
Damage to the lingual nerve during dental procedures, leading to sensory issues or pain in the tongue or surrounding areas.

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What will a Dental Negligence claim cover

When seeking compensation for dental negligence, various aspects can be considered in a claim, aiming to redress the harm and losses experienced. These encompass:

Physical and Emotional Distress
Compensation may cover the pain and suffering endured due to the negligence, encompassing physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by the dental issues.

Financial Repercussions
Loss of earnings due to the thenegligence or time off work for further treatments or recovery might be part of the claim. This can also include expenses related to additional dental procedures required to rectify the negligent treatment such as transport and accommodation etc.

Restorative or Cosmetic Procedures
If the negligence resulted in a loss of teeth or damage that affects appearance, compensation may cover costs associated with restorative dental work or cosmetic procedures aimed at restoring one's appearance, such as dental implants or other prosthetics.

How much compensation can I get for Dental Negligence?

In Ireland, compensation levels for dental negligence are outlined in the Personal Injuries Guidelines.

Where a claim for dental negligence is successful, the amount of compensation awarded is determined by several factors including:

  • The seriousness and circumstances of the injury
  • Medical expenses incurred by the injured party
  • Estimated costs for further treatments

These can all influence the compensation amount in dental negligence cases.

The Dental Negligence Claims Process

Seeking compensation for dental malpractice requires navigating an established, structured claims process. This comprehensive procedure involves several key stages, each crucial in determining the viability and success of a claim.

Start with expert Legal Advice:
First, speak with our specialised dental negligence solicitors with experience in these types of cases. We’ll guide you through the Claims process and explain everything you need to know regarding the process, fees and timelines.

Gather dental records:
These documents help assess what went wrong. If necessary, your dental solicitor can obtain the records on your behalf.

Expert Review:
An independent dental/medical expert will check if the dental care you received was of the standard required of Dentists in Ireland.

Under the Medical Practitioners Act 2017, Dentists in Ireland are legally recognised medical practitioners and are obliged to practice to the highest medical standards.

Writing the Claim Letter:
Upon confirmation of medical negligence by the independent expert, your solicitor will write a Letter of Claim. This details your case and proposes a settlement. The Letter of Claim is forwarded to the dentist or medical professional responsible for your treatment.

Negotiation or Court:
Your dentist will decide whether to contest your claim or negotiate a settlement without the need for court proceedings.

    Karen Flaherty
    | March, 2022
    Damages and payment for my dental injuries and all of my dental costs...
    Dear John … Following conclusion of my case I would like to thank you so much. Thank you for trusting me from the very first day I informed you about my situation. No one listened to me before I contacted you. You were the person who listened to me and trusted in me and my case from the very first day. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for me and I am delighted with the outcome of my case in achieving justice and damages and payment for my dental injuries and all of my dental costs.
    Karen Armstrong
    | August, 2022
    An incredible ethos which is evident in all members of the team...
    I don't know where to start in explaining how incredible my experience of Hussey Fraser is. I had the absolute misfortune to be involved in a dental negligence case. This resulted in five years of treatment - still ongoing, to try to fix a very badly botched job. I was advised by friends in the legal area that Hussey Fraser was the only company to talk to and they were right. In 2018 I met with John Browne who is now a partner in Hussey Fraser and explained my circumstances. Since then John took me through the process towards a very successful settlement step by step. He was patient when I was upset and angry and he reassured me on the days when I felt that I couldn't face into another year of treatment. On the day of my settlement, in the High Court, John took me through the process by explaining in great detail so that on the day I felt calm and extremely well looked after. I would highly recommend Hussey Fraser and wish them the very best of luck going forward. They are top in…

    Dental Negligence - Frequently Asked Questions

    • How long will it take to make a Dental claim?

      The timeframe to make a dental negligence claim can vary depending on the specifics  of the case. It typically involves gathering evidence, obtaining medical opinions, and negotiating with the party at fault or their insurers. The process can take months to years to reach a resolution. Haing an experienced dental solicitor to help expedite the process and ensure a swift resolution to your claim.

    • How long do you have to make a claim?

      Generally, in Ireland, you have two years from the date of the incident or from the date you became aware (or reasonably should have become aware) of the injury caused by dental negligence to initiate legal proceedings. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. There can be exceptions in some cases, but it's crucial to seek legal advice promptly if you suspect dental negligence.

    • Who is the Claim against?

      Every individual within the dental field bears a duty of care to their patients. While a claim is typically filed against the dentist responsible for the substandard care, claims can also involve technicians, hygienists, orthodontists,  dental surgeons and other dental professionals.

    • Who pays for a dental negligence claim

      If a dental professional or institution is found liable for negligence, the compensation is typically paid by their professional indemnity insurance. Dentists and healthcare providers will carry this type of insurance to cover legal costs and compensation in case of negligence claims.

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