Dental Protection report reveals key causes of dentolegal claims

09 November 2021

Oral surgery and endodontic procedures generated the majority of claims for compensation between January 2018 and December 2020, according to a new report from Dental Protection.

The Learning from Cases report looks at the reasons dentolegal claims are brought against dental professionals in Ireland and identifies common themes and pitfalls to help dental professionals learn from the cases and mitigate their own risk. 1100 cases were analysed for the report during the three-year period.

Oral surgery and endodontic procedures generated the majority of claims. In oral surgery cases the common themes included wrong tooth extraction, nerve damage, sinus involvement, failed extraction, fractures and incorrect prescribing.

The common themes in endodontic cases included inadequate root canal treatment, file fracture/separation and failure to warn of the possible risk and need for further treatment costs if this arises, sodium hypochlorite errors and management of incidents, perforation errors and extrusion of gutta percha during the obturation phase of the procedure, due to inexperience or error.

The Dental Protection report also identified key areas of vulnerability which led to difficulties in defending claims in the three-year period analysed. These included:

  • Record-keeping - incomplete or inadequate records
  • Consent - lack of evidence of a consent process exposing the dentist to allegations of a breach of duty
  • Assessment and treatment planning - inaccurate assessment and/or diagnosis leading to inappropriate treatment plan
  • Failure to carry out necessary diagnostic tests - e.g. radiographs and scans not taken when required, misinterpretation of images and/or failure to report on findings.


Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection, said:

“The legal environment in Ireland has resulted in clinical negligence claims involving large sums, which dental professionals may find daunting, during an already challenging time in a complex professional landscape.

“We have developed this collection of case studies, statistics and analysis from our files, to provide a view of the current claims landscape in Ireland and help members implement effective risk management strategies.

“We want dental professionals to be empowered to take preventive and precautionary steps to reduce the likelihood of claims and feel confident that when claims do arise, they can be defended successfully.  

“From our analysis, it is easy to see how the cost of claims can mount up – even before taking account of the substantial legal costs associated. The highest total cost for a single dental claim, during the three-year period covered by the report, approached €300k.  While many claims may be resolved within this three-year time frame, some claims, particularly those that are complex and require input from multiple experts, can take much longer to reach a conclusion.  Some of the highest value dental claims settled between 2016 – 2020 exceed €500k.

“Our report includes common pitfalls and themes that result in a claim and importantly, key learning points to help dental professionals avoid the stress of the challenges that others have faced.”

The full Dental Protection report is available at: 


Notes to editors

  • The report includes a collection of case studies, statistics, and analysis from Dental Protection files, which provide a view of the current claims landscape for dental members in Ireland.The accompanying learning points are intended to give guidance on how members can help defend against claims arising from clinical practice.
  • In Ireland, the period of limitation (time bar) in relation to clinical negligence claims is two years. This period relates to the patient’s date of knowledge rather than the event. A delay in a claim arising will generally be on account of the patient’s “date of knowledge” being quite some time after the event.

For further information contact: E: [email protected]  T:+44 (0)7525 680 165

About Dental Protection

Dental Protection is a registered trademark and a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.