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The duty of care

15 July 2014
    Accidents can and inevitably will happen, so it’s vital to ensure that the care of your patient is the highest priority and if something goes wrong, taking responsibility is the only decent course of action...

A dentist forwarded a letter to Dental Protection reporting that during an anaesthetic procedure the patient had suffered a burn to her lip from a hot pair of forceps while her upper left wisdom tooth was being extracted.

A claim was ultimately received by Dental Protection indicating that the patient required significant damages on the basis that plastic surgery was required. A medical report was commissioned and copies of the patient’s own medical report were supplied, indicating the need for cosmetic surgery.

Dental Protection commissioned a second expert report which stated: ‘Examination showed a raised partly keloid scar extending downwards and laterally from the lateral part of the lower lip. As it is now 14 months since the reported injury, it is unlikely this scar will further improve appearance with time.’ The practitioner was totally apologetic and the case was ultimately settled for a significant sum.

Even though every precaution is taken, accidents do occasionally happen during dental procedures. The patient must be kept informed while an appropriate response is organised by the dentist. A meaningful apology must also be offered.

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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. 
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