How many lawyers know that number 17 (the lower third molar) is usually the toughest tooth to extract? How many even know what “TMJ” is; or that nerve injuries or facial pain result in much higher dental malpractice awards than other claims? Not many. But, we do!
Again, North Carolina is a friendly state to practice dentistry in. And, our goal is to structure the dentist’s corporate form, asset protection program, and estate plan such that he or she is not an attractive defendant to a lawsuit. Of course, in some cases, dental malpractice claims cannot be avoided. So, when such a situation arises, wouldn’t the dental professional want to employ an experienced lawyer who actually understands the nuances of dentistry, and all of the measures that must be taken for ABSOLUTE OPTIMUM PROTECTION?
Fact – general dentists are the most routinely sued professionals with respect to malpractice claims. This is because general practitioners can and often do perform all types of procedures. Prudent general dentists, of course, refer difficult procedures to specialists – but in some cases the difficulties don’t manifest until mid-way through the session. Thus, we talk most frequently about dental malpractice claims and measures to avoid such claims with our general dentist clients. Oral / Maxillofacial surgeons are the next most vulnerable class of dental professionals to malpractice claims. This is because of the obvious use of sedatives and anesthesia, not to mention the style of medical procedures they perform.
Periodontists, Endodontists, Prosthodontists, and Orthodontists are not immune from dental malpractice claims, but statistically, they are sued much less frequently than general dentists and oral surgeons.
In our opinion, the most important components of shielding oneself against a malpractice claim are: good recordkeeping; proper follow-up after procedures; and acting promptly at the first notice of any issues – by dealing with the issue head-on, and referring the patient to a specialist when applicable. Often, claims are avoided proactively, by simply referring any procedure the dentist is not completely comfortable with to the specialist.
Ultimately, at the first notice or instinct that a malpractice claim may be imminent – please call Lake Norman Law Firm. We can promptly advise a course of action that responsibly deals with the situation, but also protects our dentists from an unwarranted claim, or deters the claim altogether.