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Reasons dentists are most often sued for malpractice

Although lawsuits against dentists are rarely publicized in the media, they are just as likely to neglect their responsibilities as any other medical professional might.

One common reason dentists are accused of malpractice is because they fail to procure a patient's informed refusal or consent to carry out a given procedure. When a patient doesn't provide their consent for X-rays necessary for a dentist to diagnose a condition, it's important for him or her to get that in writing.

The same logic applies in a situation in which a patient does agree to have a procedure performed. They must sign a consent acknowledging they've been made aware of the risks, benefits and alternatives of having the procedure carried out. A dentist's failure to procure the patient's consent or refusal could put him or her at risk for being sued if something goes wrong.

A dentist also risks being sued for malpractice if he or she fails to diagnose a condition, like cancer. This is why it's important for dentists to verbally announce that they're performing an annual oral cancer screening. It's also important for them to document what parts of the mouth they've examined and cleared for any particular risk, whether it is the jaw, tongue or neck.

Communication difficulties can deter a dentist from providing a patient with follow-up care. It can even impact their willingness to see though a treatment plan or to refer a patient to a specialist when needed as well, resulting in a decline in his or her dental health.It's because of communication difficulties like this that dentists are often accused of performing unnecessary procedures on patients. They often neglect to ascertain whether the patient understood the complexities of the diagnosis he or she was facing and the different options available to resolve it.

When patients are not properly informed as to how to care for themselves after a dental procedure, they're likely to suffer unnecessary permanent damage. It's in cases such as this that the likelihood of a dentist being sued goes up significantly.

If you suspect that your dentist has failed to provide you with the highest quality of care expected of him or her, then a Los Lunas medical malpractice attorney may advise you of your right to sue in your case.

Source: Insurance Innovations, "Top six causes of dental malpractice suits," accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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