Most people are now familiar with the fact that if a doctor, Consultant or GP fails to provide treatment to a satisfactory standard then they may be held to be in breach of the duty of care they owe to you. And if as a result of that breach you are injured then you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.
However, it is not such common knowledge that dentists ALSO owe a duty of care to their patients which means if the treatment THEY provide does not reach a satisfactory standard then they may be held liable. The duty of care is in fact the same duty owed by doctors, Consultants and GPs – to provide such care as you are reasonably entitled to expect and to do so to the standard of a competent dental practitioner. This of course is not to say that every time something goes wrong following dental treatment then the dentist will be held liable.
To pursue a claim against your dentist you have to be able to demonstrate that the treatment fell below the standard you expected (ie the dentist was NEGLIGENT) and that the negligence CAUSED the problems you then experienced. It might sound like a bit of a minefield but with some advice from a solicitor who deals with such cases you will soon be on your way to knowing if you have a valid claim.
I regularly see clients who have experienced problems as a result of treatment by their dentists and the problems they tell me about are wide ranging. They include cases where the dentist has simply failed to appreciate the extent of a dental problem and left it untreated and it goes on to become a much more serious problem that it would have been if it had been treated sooner. They also include cases where problems arise following treatment and the dentist fails to appreciate the need for a referral to specialist care resulting in more treatment and unnecessary pain. I have also seen cases where the dentist has carried out treatment that is simply outside his area of expertise and cases where the wrong tooth has been extracted.
If you think that this may have happened to you then it is worthwhile checking out the possibility of pursuing a claim. I am happy to chat with you about what has happened and give you my view on whether it sounds like you have a claim. I will ask you details about your visits to the dentist, what was said to you at the time, what treatment you had and what on going problems you have. If I then consider that it is worthwhile continuing and you would like me to then we can agree a course of action which in the first instance will involve getting copies of your dental notes and looking at them together for evidence of what went wrong. If the issues seem clear at that stage then I would suggest that letter of claim be sent to the dentist to pass on to his/her Professional Indemnity insurers setting out the allegations of negligence. If the issues are NOT clear from the notes then it may be appropriate to obtain a report from a specialist dentist to comment on the standard of care provided and to give HIS/HER view on whether your dentist was negligent. This is often referred to as a “Liability and Causation” report and is very useful in cases where we think the dentist has been negligence but we need some assistance in specifying exactly what went wrong.
If you think I can help then please call me.
Until next time