Unlike the medical professional, the dental profession in many states including Georgia, has a lack of oversight over those dental professionals who choose to conduct dental procedures for which they do not have the qualifications and skills to perform. Legally, any dentist can perform any dental procedure. The problem that arises however, is that some general dentists take this liberty too far. As an Atlanta dental malpractice attorney, I have been contacted by victims of dental malpractice who have suffered serious injuries under the following situation:
- A general dentist attempting to install dental implants in the maxillary (upper jaw) piercing the sinus cavity and leading to serious infections that would not heal;
- A general dentist attempting to extract a impacted wisdom tooth and damaging the inferior alveolar nerve in the process;
- A general dentist attempting to extract a impacted wisdom tooth and damaging the lingual nerve in the process;
- A general dentist attempting to install dental implants in the mandible (lower jaw)and damaging the inferior alveolar nerve in the process;
- A general dentist attempting to perform a complicated root canal (with curved and blocked roots) and damaging the inferior alveolar nerve in the process.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it illustrates a lot of the damage that general dentists can wreak on patients when the try to perform dental work that is best left to a dental professional that specializes in that type of procedure. Since state dental boards are not involved in the credentialing of procedures for dentists in most states, except for advanced general anesthesia techniques, state boards commonly permit advanced techniques (e.g. dental implants, root canal, and complicate extractions of impacted wisdom teeth) that were not learned in dental school to be performed by general dentists. This lack of oversight contributes to many dental patient injuries in Georgia and throughout the United States.
One of the preliminary steps that I take when a case involving this type of care comes in the door is to critically review the training and experience of the dentist involved who caused the injury. Does he or she have the experience, training and experience is the root cause of most dental negligence? If not, has this lack of experience lead to the injury that the client is complaining of in the lawsuit?
Most state dental boards will hold licensees to the standard of a care of a dental specialist in disciplinary matters involving advanced techniques, such as the previous example of implants. The “minimally competent practitioner in the same field” who sets the standard for these procedures is the specialist, not the general family dentist. While this may not be the ideal standard, that is enough to work with to make sure that each patient is treated competently and is not subject to malpractice that caused injuries.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.