16 May, 2023
Following the backlogs caused by the Pandemic, it is clear to see that a large number of patients are experiencing difficulties in accessing routine and emergency dental treatment, with an estimated 13.5% of the UK being unable to access an NHS Dentist.
Regular check-ups should be a straightforward and pain free procedure. However, when bi-annual check-ups are left for longer periods due to lengthy backlogs or being denied an NHS Dentist, problems can arise which may require more attention as a consequence.
If delays are incurred, or mistakes are made during routine or cosmetic dental treatment, a patient could find themselves facing expensive and painful corrective treatment fees to put things right. Mistakes can be made by both Private and NHS Dental Professionals, but both have the same duty to you as a patient.
If you have been on the receiving end of poor treatment, you may be entitled to compensation.
Dental negligence is any sub-standard care provided by a qualified dental professional that causes harm to a patient. This can be treatment provided by a Private or NHS Dentist, Orthodontist, Dental Nurse or Oral Hygienist.
Some of the most common examples of dental negligence usually arise from:
Trismus is a condition that can be linked to a variety of medical issues, but the most common cause usually arises following treatment to the temporomandibular joint (TMD), following anaesthetic procedures for the extraction of wisdom teeth.
Symptoms of Trismus include:
If you experience these symptoms it is important for your dental professional to act quickly by reviewing your symptoms, examining your jaw, neck and temporomandibular joint and starting immediate treatment once the underlying cause has been identified. For example, if this has been caused by an abscess or infection it is important for your dental professional to provide immediate antibiotics or remove the infected tooth to prevent symptoms becoming worse. Muscle relaxants and/or physical therapy may also be administered to relieve the symptoms.
Whilst symptoms of Trismus are usually temporary if treated quickly, a delay in treatment may lead to permanent problems which can affect a patient's long-term ability to eat and chew solid food. In some cases, the strength in the jaw may be permanently damaged, and a delay in treating can also make it difficult or impossible to insert dentures, should they be required in the future. An inability to open the mouth properly for long periods can also lead to future oral and hygiene problems.
Dental Professionals are expected to carry out dental procedures in a safe and hygienic way. If you have suffered visible damage from a procedure or operation due to negligent treatment, or if you have been left with increased pain, sensitivity, or nerve damage as a result, then you may be entitled to pursue a compensation claim. If your dental professional has provided sub-standard treatment and your procedure does not go as expected, this is likely to be a stressful and painful experience for you that could have been avoided. In these circumstances, you may need to assess your legal options which could help cover the cost of any further or additional treatment which may be required as a result.
Making a claim against a dental professional can feel daunting. At Forbes Solicitors we have a dedicated team of medical negligence lawyers to assist you in the process.
If your treatment has been provided on a private basis, the claim would be made against the performing Dentist's Insurance Company. If the treatment has been provided by the NHS, any successful claims are paid out by the NHS Resolution Authority, which is a separate fund put aside by the Government to compensate NHS patients who are affected by negligence.
You can claim for whatever harm you have suffered due to the negligent dental treatment. This could include pain, suffering, psychological trauma or any other facial or cosmetic damage. If your dental treatment is performed negligently, this may also mean you have to have further restorative treatment due to its failure, which would also be recoverable.
For any legal action arising from negligence, it must be proven that:
The burden of proof in a negligence claim will always rest with the claimant, who must be able to show, more likely than not (greater than 50%), that they were injured by a negligent act or omission for which the defendant is responsible.
Each case differs and we will assess each case on its own merits. Generally, these are the steps that may be taken:
The time limit for making a dental negligence claim is 3 years from your date of knowledge (i.e. the date you first realised that you may have been treated negligently).
There are some exceptions to the time limits for making a claim;
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity and complexity of your injury and will take into account, how long you have suffered, the level of pain and suffering, and how much it has cost to correct the negligent treatment. Additional items of loss may also be recoverable which may include lost earnings, travelling expenses and rehabilitation treatment fees if the negligent procedure has caused you to suffer psychological harm or distress. When valuing the claim our dedicated lawyers will work closely with you to ensure they understand the full and lasting effects the injury or negligent treatment may have had on you.
If you believe you have suffered from dental negligence, arising from a delay in recognising or diagnosing your symptoms, or a mistake in the treatment you have received, please contact Forbes Solicitors dental negligence claims solicitors who will be able to advise you on whether you have a case and the process involved. We work on a no win no fee basis with a reduced success fee if the claim is successful.
For more information please contact John Bennett, Leonie Millard or Lisa Atkinson in our Clinical Negligence Department via email or telephone 01254 872 111. Alternatively, please send any questions through to Forbes Solicitors via our online contact form.
For more information contact Lisa Atkinson in our Clinical Negligence department via email or phone on 01254 222448. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Clinical Negligence department here