In Georgia, when a patients suspects that they are the victim of dental malpractice and request their file, the dentist must give the patient a complete copy of their file, including all radiographic materials such as x-rays and cone beam CT scans. As a Georgia lawyer who regularly handles dental malpractice cases, I receive calls from irate patients who have properly requested a copy of their file but are being stonewalled by the dentist. In most cases, the dentist feels safe in refusing to provide the patient file, and in doing so, feels as if this will convince the injured patient to not seek legal action. Rarely does this work and, in more cases than not, it spurs the injured patient to hire an experienced dental malpractice lawyer to obtain a copy of the file, evaluate the case, and file a lawsuit if the case has merit.
When a dentist refuses to give the patient a copy of her records after they have been properly requested pursuant to statute and appropriate notice to the dentist via certified mail, the statute of limitations (or the amount of time within which the injured patient must file a lawsuit) could be tolled for the period of time during which the dentist refuses to comply with the statutory request for the records. See O.C.G.A. Section 9-3-97.1.
O.C.G.A. Section 31-33-2 provides, in pertinent part: