Medical negligence occurs when you have suffered unduly from the malpractice of a medical practitioner. This can come in the form of things like misdiagnosis, wrong treatment, clinical malpractice, botched surgery, and a host of other negligent practices.
Usually when the term is used people think of doctors at fault. However, medical negligence stretches across other healthcare professionals such as dentists.
Dental negligence is considered if there is damage or injury to the gum and teeth sustained as a result of a misdiagnosis or botched dental procedures. The results can be catastrophic.
The first step is to decide whether you wish to make a case for your complaint. You may think that accountability needs to be forced home; you may hope for the same malpractice never to happen again, and you may feel rightly entitled to some form of monetary pay out for your discomfort. Your dental negligence claim can be constructed with any diaries or records as well as your official medical records. This claim will be sent to the defendant and they will decide whether to refute the claim or offer an out of court settlement. Some medical negligence claims will be decided this way and others will be decided in a court of law.
In recent weeks a patient was awarded £7,000 in an out-of-court settlement against her dentist in Gossops Green, West Sussex, after he failed to refer her for corrective orthodontic treatment and to address her gum disease. When she was eventually seen by a specialist she was told she needed immediate treatment and should have had it years earlier. Ms Turner, said: “I had an accident as a child and this pushed my teeth back into my mouth. At the time I was told my teeth needed time to settle as I was only young, but as I got older and into my teens I wanted something done.
“I was advised by Dr Clinton that this wasn’t an option. He said I was not entitled to NHS care as I was over 18.” However, Ms Turner then started to experience severe bleeding of the gum, especially when she ate.
“My gums would bleed so severely, that when I ate a sandwich it would be covered in blood,” she said – yet she was only seen by a specialist after her jaw went into severe spasm. The doctor indicated that due to the severity of the condition she would have been entitled to NHS care ‘regardless of her age’. It took five years to put everything right. And even though this dentist did not admit any liability, last September a separate out-of-court settlement for a former patient of his was reported, too: Mike Watts, from Maidenbower, was awarded £17,500 due to the extensive tooth decay he had suffered at the hand of the same ‘professional’.
However, it is unfortunately the case that legal redress isn’t always available. As reported in the Evening Standard, a ‘legal loophole’ means that at present, there is no legal obligation for dentists to have liability insurance. Gemma Stowers, 29, needs a bone graft following the teeth-straightening procedure carried out by Dr Philippe Brunelle, a Harley Street orthodontist, who has since been struck off by the General Dental Council (GDC). She is now supporting campaign group ‘Bridge the Gap’ which wants the law changed. She said: “I am owed at least £10,000 which is what I have spent on the original treatment and work done to put his mistakes right.” Dr Brunelle was struck off by the GDC in February following complaints by two patients. He now works in Dubai.
In response, an Evening Standard reader said, “poor quality dentists set up in Harley Street to give themselves a patina of respectability. How about we create a peer review site where users can log their experience? I believe it’s already being done for plumbers and builders.”
If you feel you have been the subject of inappropriate or negligent action on the part of a dentist, our friendly experienced solicitors will be happy to discuss the circumstances around your claim. Find out more