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When sedation leads to settlement

15 July 2014
Issuing warnings or important information to a sedated patient is never recommended. As this case demonstrates, you should make sure the patient understands any possible outcomes before treatment starts...

A claim was received by Dental Protection from a patient who had bitten his lip following a local anaesthetic while treatment was being carried out under sedation.

The 14-year-old patient had undergone sedation with midazolam and the warnings in respect of biting his lip had been provided while he was still under the effects of sedation. Accordingly, it was considered that the claim could not be successfully defended. A small settlement was made to the patient with the agreement of the member.

Learning point:
Warnings are ideally provided before any treatment starts. The patient or their carer must be able to understand the information they are given. The use of written warnings can be very helpful both as a reminder to the patient and as evidence of the warning having been issued.

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