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An unexpected deafness

06 September 2018

A consultant oral surgeon arranged a maxillary condyle biopsy to diagnose the cause of facial asymmetry in a young patient. The biopsy confirmed the nature of the associated pathology but unfortunately the child suffered hearing loss after surgery.

The father of the child was naturally concerned and was unable to understand why relatively minor jaw surgery should lead to post-operative deafness.

Possible explanations were given, and eventually the father agreed to further surgery to investigate the deafness. Scar tissue was detected in the ear and the tissue was duly removed. After the removal of the dressings, normal hearing returned.

Solicitors were instructed by the parents and the hospital involved dealt with a potential claim. The oral surgeon contacted Dental Protection to ensure that his own reputation was protected.

Learning points

  • Adequate warnings to patients or their representatives pre-operatively about potential adverse outcomes or complications predisposes to a measured expectation of postoperative success.
  • All discussions about the risks and complications should be carefully noted in the clinical records.

These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits dental members enjoy as part of their subscription. 
For more detailed advice on any issues, contact us

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DPL Australia Pty Ltd (“DPLA”) is registered in Australia with ABN 24 092 695 933. Dental Protection Limited (“DPL”) is registered in England (No. 2374160) and along with DPLA is part of the Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) group of companies. MPS is registered in England (No. 00036142). Both DPL and MPS have their registered office at Level 19, The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG. DPL serves and supports the dental members of MPS. All the benefits of MPS membership are discretionary, as set out in MPS’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. “Dental Protection member” in Australia means a non-indemnity dental member of MPS. Dental Protection members may hold membership independently or in conjunction with membership of the Australian Dental Association (W.A. Branch) Inc. (“ADA WA”).

Dental Protection members who hold membership independently need to apply for, and where applicable maintain, an individual Dental Indemnity Policy underwritten by MDA National Insurance Pty Ltd (“MDA”), ABN 56 058 271 417, AFS Licence No. 238073. DPLA is a Corporate Authorised Representative of MDA with CAR No. 326134. For such Dental Protection members, by agreement with MDA, DPLA provides point-of-contact member services, case management and colleague-to-colleague support.

Dental Protection members who are also ADA WA members need to apply for, and where applicable maintain, an individual Dental Indemnity Policy underwritten by MDA, which is available in accordance with the provisions of ADA WA membership.

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