As the past year comes to an end and we start a new year, I want to write about a common misdiagnosis for those who have suffered a dental nerve injury from malpractice. Bell’s Palsy is often the diagnosis given to patients who have suffered an injury to one of the trigeminal nerves in the face due to a negligent dental procedure such as a root canal, dental implant or tooth extraction. Unfortunately, this common diagnosis is often a misdiagnosis and ignores the source of the nerve problem (trauma to the nerve from a negligent dental procedure). The more accurate diagnosis for these patients who, many times, are suffering from numbness and pain at the same time, would be to identify the nerve that is damaged (i.e., inferior alveolar nerve, mental nerve, lingual nerve, or infra-orbital nerve) and diagnose it as an injury.
For instance, if a dentist crushes the inferior alveolar nerve by placing a mandibular dental implant into the inferior alveolar nerve canal, the correct diagnosis would be “inferior alveolar nerve injury.” This correct diagnosis will aid the patient in seeking the proper subsequent care and treatment. Instead of making an imprecise diagnosis, the correct diagnosis from the treating physician or dentist would be as follows:
It is my opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, and based on my care and treatment of plaintiff and based on the medical history provided to me by the plaintiff that she suffered an infraorbital nerve injury [or inferior alveolar nerve, mental nerve, lingual nerve, or infra-orbital nerve, as the case may be]. It is also my opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the treatments that plaintiff sought from me were necessitated by the failed extraction and due to the infraorbital nerve injury that she sustained. The treatment and bills related to my care and treatment of plaintiff for her injuries were all reasonable and necessary to treat her injuries.
There are many reasons why a proper and precise diagnosis is important. Of course, the patient needs a proper and precise diagnosis so that they understand exactly which part of their body has been injured by the act of malpractice. Secondly, subsequent treating physicians and dentists will, undoubtedly rely upon the diagnosis in their subsequent care and treatment, so they must also know precisely which nerve has been injured (and if at all possible, to what degree the nerve has been damaged). Finally, it is important for the damages portion of the lawsuit.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, 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.