Though the vast majority of visits pass off without incident, a trip to the dentist can be daunting at the best of times. There are occasions when the level of care does not meet the high standards demanded by the dental profession and errors do occur.
Of the 60,600 complaints made annually regarding family health services, 11.5% concern dental care, so what can you do if you have been a victim of dental negligence?
A Dentist's Duty of Care
Whether private or NHS, your dentist has a duty of care to you and a code of behaviour they must adhere to as defined in the General Dental Council's Standards for the Dental Team.
The principles a registered dental professional must maintain include:
- Putting patients' interests first
- Communicating effectively with patients
- Obtaining valid consent
- Working with colleagues in a way that is in patients' best interests
- Raising concerns if patients are at risk
- Ensuring personal behaviour maintains patient confidence
If your dentist has failed to uphold these standards or has neglected their duty of care to you, resulting in a, sometimes life-changing, injury, you may be able to make a claim. At Simpson Millar, we have the legal expertise and knowhow to ensure you get a fair hearing and the level of compensation to which you are entitled.
Types of Dental Negligence
Dental negligence can manifest in a number of ways, but largely falls into one of the following categories:
- Substandard dental work
- Cosmetic errors
- Unnecessary dental work
A victim may suffer pain, psychological trauma, financial loss or long-term conditions that require ongoing treatment.
If your dentist has wrongly diagnosed a dental condition, it might not only have led to unnecessary work being undertaken, but also to an existing disorder being overlooked. This could have exacerbated the problem, resulting in further damage, discomfort or pain.
A patient should be able to visit a dentist safe in the knowledge that the dental professional is capable of using a combination of expertise and judgement to correctly assess and treat their condition. When this is not the case, the healthcare professional has failed in their duty of care to the patient.
Substandard Dental Work
Whatever treatment your dentist chooses to carry out, if it is poorly handled it could fail to resolve the initial condition, as well as lead to additional complications. Anything from accidentally cutting your gum or poor hygiene practices resulting in infection, right through to a botched root canal procedure, has the potential to cause ongoing problems, which may need additional treatment to correct.
A dentist has once again failed in their duty of care if the dental work falls below the recognised standard, or results in continued discomfort, pain and further – otherwise unnecessary – treatment.
Chambers and Partners 2017
"Large practice with broad capabilities. Advises on obstetric negligence and cases relating to delayed diagnosis of cancer, negligent orthopaedic surgery, dental surgery and inadequate nursing care."
"Neil Fearn is head of the firm's national clinical negligence practice. He acts on obstetrics, delayed diagnosis of cancer and amputation cases. Clients say: 'He works so hard and won't put a matter down until it is finished; he keeps at it and gets it as near-perfect as possible.' Another source adds: 'He gets good results due to his drive and determination.'"
"New partner Lisa Swales has recent experience in child brain injury cases. 'She always responds to my e-mails and phone calls within a matter of hours,' says one client, while commentators say that she 'fights for her client, is sensible and is on top of cases.'"
"Geoffrey Simpson-Scott is a key contact who advises clients on a range of clinical negligence cases, including misdiagnosis cases and negligent surgery matters. Often represents families at inquest."
Non-essential work, such as bleaching, crowns and veneers, is intended to improve the appearance of a patient's teeth, correcting flaws, breaks and discolouration. Although these cosmetic procedures are usually successful and accomplished without incident, sometimes they can go wrong, resulting in serious complications.
If you have had a cosmetic dental procedure that hasn't gone to plan, such as poor orthodontic work, bleaching, veneer, bridge or crown work, or you have had adverse reaction to a dermal filler – some of which have proven to be extremely controversial when it comes to patient safety – your dentist could well have acted negligently and you might be entitled to compensation.
Unnecessary Dental Work
If your dentist has carried out treatment that you have since discovered to be unnecessary, such as an extraction or root canal surgery, whether through incompetence or for financial gain, they will have breached General Dental Council standards. In such cases they could be subject to a personal injury claim and, in the latter instance, a criminal charge of fraud.
Making A Claim For Dental Negligence
Our team of personal injury specialists will be able to tell you whether you have a claim and what to do next. As personal injury claims are covered by 'No win, no fee', you will only pay us when we win your case.
The Timeframe For Making A Dental Negligence Claim
You have a 3 year limit in which to make your claim for dental negligence. This begins either from when the dental work took place, or from when the detrimental effects of the treatment were first diagnosed.
Why Should I Make A Claim?
A personal injury claim can provide you with the financial support you need to both aid you in your recovery and pay for any additional corrective surgery or treatment. It will also highlight the negligence that has caused your injury, helping to ensure that it does not happen to anybody else.
What Are The Next Steps?
An injury sustained due to the negligent actions of a dentist can be life-changing, causing not only physical but psychological damage too.
If you have suffered as a result of a misunderstanding, incompetence or substandard work, and wish to make a claim, you should seek advice from a legal professional specialising in dental injury compensation. Simpson Millar's extensive track record in winning medical negligence cases enables us to apply our experience and expertise to your claim, ensuring you get the level of compensation you are entitled to.
Please contact us with no obligation on 0808 129 3320 or get in touch through our online