Dental care malpractice is slowly following the path of its maligned partner, medical malpractice. Should dental malpractice end up similarly, costs for dental care would rise to such prohibitive levels that we would all end up with teeth like the British. Does this mean that dental malpractice shouldn’t be litigated in the courts? No. But it can not be a free-for-all for everyone looking to make a quick buck. Please consult an attorney only after the following efforts have been made.
If you feel your dentist is guilty of malpractice, confront him or her. Explain to him or her why you feel they failed to meet your expectations. Because dentistry has become as much cosmetic as it is functional, there are usually multiple treatment options for a patient’s case. If you feel your dentist’s work has failed in any way, confronting them and demanding recompense or an alternative is a first step.
If the issue is on a more personal level (unprofessional conduct or damage to your oral health) and you aren’t comfortable with confronting your dentist, please don’t. Contact another dentist in your area. If you live near a university with a dental school, call the director of ethics or human resources. Talk to someone else in the field to get an idea of what should and shouldn’t take place in your dentist’s office. From a dentist’s perspective, we don’t want unnecessary litigation in our profession. We try and self police the profession as best we can. So please seek advice first from someone that understands the field better than a Doctor of Jurisprudence.
If the above mentioned efforts are fruitless, contact your state or region’s dental board. Every dentist in America is licensed under a regulatory board. They will have a defined protocol as to recourses that can be sought to remedy malpractice. They also have the power to investigate any dentist licensed under their jurisdiction who may be in violation of practice standards, ethics, or the law. If you want justice brought to your situation, your state or regional dental board has the power to do so quickly and efficiently.
If these steps have been taken and you still feel as though malpractice occurred and wasn’t punished properly, seek the advice of a legal attorney who specializes in the field of dental malpractice. They will be able to provide the assistance and methods required to bring an equitable and judgment on the issue.
For your sake and mine, leave the litigation to the legitimate malpractice cases. Otherwise we’ll all end up without dental care.