For most people, going to the dentist is stressful. For the 13-year-old girl in this reported case, it resulted in her death. The young girl was having teeth removed during oral surgery in the dentist’s office, when she stopped breathing. The autopsy revealed that the death was the result of complications from anesthesia, given prior to surgery.
The devastated family elected to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which was settled out of court by the dentist’s insurance company and negotiated by the state’s Dental Board. The most interesting aspect of this case were the remarks made by the Dental Board once the settlement had been negotiated, commenting, among other things, that it was the task of the Board to ensure unsafe dentists, or those that were likely a threat, either took further training to remediate deficient areas in their practice or, in the alternative, stop practicing.
The upside of this case was, in addition to the negotiated settlement, that the doctor agreed to retire. On the surface, this may have been a stunningly good idea, given the man’s age. Digging deeper revealed that it was not the first time that the doctor had been sued for wrongful death. In 1997, a 57-year-old woman died from similar complications with anesthetic. At that time, the dentist would have been 67-years-old. That case was also settled out of court.
The state Dental Board was also heard to say that this case was a prime example of how hard it was to regulate dentistry, an admission that makes one cringe when thinking about their next dental procedure. For the most part, dentists are careful, skilled and caring, and provide their patients with excellent care. And then, there is always the odd bad dentist. This of course raises some very serious questions about the liability of the Board and the dentists they license, as they do not appear to regulate all that closely or well.
Did the family of the 13-year-old girl have a good case? Yes, and the sad fact is that her death may not have happened had the state Dental Board taken action about the dentist’s license in 1997, and made sure he was safe to be licensed and still practice. Certainly “what if’s” will not bring the girl back, but they may raise this issue to a level where someone does something about it, so that questionable dentists do not keep practicing.
It is quite likely that this was one of the reasons this case settled out of court as well.
If you feel you have been the victim of dental malpractice, seek legal counsel from an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer. If you want justice and compensation for injuries you may have suffered, the only way to get your case settled or into court is with the assistance of a knowledgeable Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
Tim Anderson writes for Atlanta Personal Injury attorney, Stephen M. Ozcomert. The firm specializes in personal injury, malpractice, motorcycle accidents, and wrongful death. To learn more about Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Stephen M. Ozcomert, visit http://www.ozcomert.com.