Gross negligence is an extreme form of negligence compared to ordinary negligence. It is defined as the awareness and a reckless disregard of the need to use reasonable care which is likely to put a patient into a grave injury or harm. Such unprofessional conduct has a corresponding consequence, as for the dentist, the consequence could be license suspension or revocation. It is why a dentist should ensure hiring a dental attorney for help before facing the Board.
On or about October 27, 2017, a patient was presented to the dentist in San Angelo, Texas for emergency dental treatment. The patient’s chief complaint was lower left side pain associated with a new crown, the need for root canal treatment on the lower right side, and wanting to fill a crown that had been drilled through.
A root canal treatment or also called endodontic treatment is a root canal therapy that involves accessing the center of the tooth to remove infected pulpal tissue. The dentist states that he performed a “full exam”, and “x-rays”, and maintains he discussed his findings and treatment recommendations with the patient. At the visit, the dentist performed the initial part of root canal treatment “open med” which is a dental terminology for the initial part of root canal treatment wherein the subject tooth is anesthetized and the decay is removed and access into the pulp chamber of the tooth to remove infected nerves and is irrigated with antibacterial solution and so on. This is what the dentist did on the patient’s tooth #30 and has prescribed medication. The patient reported that the dentist was nervous during the treatment, “like something went wrong”. During the initial visit, a lot of errors and omissions occurred wherein procedures were not performed properly just like that the dentist did not perform a thorough examination on the patient. Another one of the dentist’s errors was during the root canal treatment; the dentist perforated the furcation area of tooth #30 during access cavity preparation. The perforation occurred on the medial wall of the distal root tooth #30 which the dentist did not inform the patient of the furcation perforation (A puncture or hole of the furcation. As a result of furcation perforation, destruction of the periodontal tissues may occur, which may ultimately lead to loss of the tooth.) involving tooth #30, and did not note about it and the use of a temporary filling to seal the access cavity on tooth #30 in the patient’s chart.
As a response to the incident involving the dentist, as a result, the dentist is subject to disciplinary action in that the dentist engaged in unprofessional conduct by committing acts of gross negligence during his care and treatment of the patient wherein the standard care is given to the patient was not met and was not done properly.
This allegation of the patient, as the complainant, has put the dentist in a bad situation. The dentist was given the chance to ensure a legal representative before facing and going to the case hearing but failed to do so. A dental attorney could have been the dentist’s legal representative if only he considered hiring one.
If you are a dentist and are facing allegations just like in the above mentioned incident, you should always remember that the first thing you do is to ensure hiring a dental attorney for defense before facing the Board. To do so, you may consult Texas Dental Attorney Yong J. An. For further details, you may contact him at (832) 428-5679 to get a schedule for confidential consultation.