If you don't think you need dental malpractice insurance for your dental practice, you need to think again. According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, it is estimated that 8,500 dentists will be named as the defendant in a dental malpractice lawsuit each year. And, each lawsuit has an average payout of $68,000. Because malpractice claims originate from routine procedures you perform in your dental office every day, you need to be covered. Your patient can end up with serious health-related complications, leaving them with medical bills to repair or treat their problem. Here are three of the most common reasons you may be included in a dental malpractice lawsuit and the health complications each can cause your patient.
Complications from Using Anesthesia
When you administer anesthesia to a patient, there is a chance they may have an allergic reaction to the drug. Some allergic symptoms can include giant hives, difficulty breathing, and puffiness in the mouth and throat. Younger patients are at risk of receiving too much anesthesia, which can cause death while the drug depresses their respiratory system.
Some other reactions to anesthesia can include seizures, shaking, blurred vision, neck pain, joint and muscle pain, and vomiting. In some cases confusion and long term memory loss can continue in your patient for several days. Although you get a complete medical history of your patients to avoid any potential reactions with anesthesia, there is a chance it can occur regardless.
Patient Injuries in Your Dental Office
Not all dental malpractice lawsuits are related to your dental work. Your physical office could be the cause of an injury. Dental malpractice lawsuits can come from slips, falls, burns, cuts, and other injuries that happen to your patient while they are in your office.
Around each patient dental chair there are many cords, extendable trays and arms, and various dental cleaning accessories that could become an obstacle to an elderly patient or one not paying attention. It can be easy for someone to lose their balance and fall in your office because the floor has become slippery from tracked in rain or snow. These types of hazards and obstacles can occur although you and your staff try your best to prevent them each time.
A patient suffering from a broken leg bone or torn ligaments in their leg may be unable to work for several weeks or months. They may also have a large amount of hospital bills from surgery to repair the injury they received in your dental office. The total cost of an ACL surgery is estimated to be over $11,000, but one patient recently reported a total bill of over $68,000.
Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer
When you catch a patient's oral cancer in its early stages and it has not spread to other parts of the patient's body, their survival rate over five years is 83 percent. The average number of oral cancer cases discovered each year is 36,500, and nearly 8,000 of those people die from it.
Catching oral cancer in your dental patients is an important part of dental checkups and cleaning. Your patients may not know what types of warning signs to look for and may not regularly inspect the inside of their mouths, so it is up to you to watch for any warnings signs. Some of these signs can include red or white spots inside the mouth that have not healed after two weeks.
If you don't catch a patient's oral cancer and it spreads to other parts of their body, their chance of surviving past five years is only 32 percent. When oral cancer is finally caught and it has spread, the patient can undergo radiation treatment. This can cause several side effects in their mouth, including dry mouth, which can be permanent. Other symptoms that occur during radiation therapy can include mouth infection, sore throat, tooth decay, bleeding gums, and jaw stiffness.
It is important to get a dental malpractice insurance coverage to protect your practice from lawsuits.
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