How To Defend Against A Dental Malpractice Lawsuit

Every career has its risks. Unfortunately, some professionals might not consider malpractice lawsuits until they’re sued. For instance, if you’re a dentist, issues could arise, which can cause you to be charged with dental malpractice. A patient may sue you because you caused an infection, removed the wrong tooth, or didn’t diagnose a serious health complication. You might also face a lawsuit if you didn’t administer anesthesia properly or caused other nerve, teeth, or gum injuries. 

Suppose a patient has sued you for either of the above reasons. In such a case, below are some ways to help you defend yourself:

Consult An Attorney 

After being charged with a dental malpractice lawsuit, a necessary step is to consult a reliable attorney. You can reach out to PCS Law practitioners or any other reputable lawyers for dentists to seek assistance in navigating the legal process of a lawsuit. 

An excellent lawyer can help represent you before a disciplinary board or in a courtroom. They’ll also conduct necessary investigations to prove your innocence. This is by finding out if you violated standard care and identifying your case’s weaknesses. Additionally, they’ll examine the circumstances and severity of the injury you’ve been sued for. This way, they’ll ascertain if you’re to blame. 

If you’re somewhat responsible, they may determine the proper amount of compensation you should be charged. Besides that, a lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the injured party to settle the matter out of court. If the plaintiff isn’t persuadable, they’ll represent you in court and ensure the best possible results. 

Overall, a legal professional can help make sure your reputation, business, interests, and licenses are protected. 

Show That The Plaintiff Knew Their Procedure’s Risks

Lack of proper proof to present in court is one of the many reasons why cases may be delayed. And in some cases, being unable to have sufficient evidence can also hurt your case. And so, to solidify your stand, it’s essential to have documents and other proof to testify on your behalf and prove your innocence.

With that, one of the things you should have as proof or avail to your lawyer is a consent form signed by the person suing you. After all, it’s standard to communicate with your patient about the procedure they’re about to undergo and what risks are involved. This signed document can help protect you as it’ll show that the plaintiff knew the risks of their treatment and still chose to go through with it.

Prove You Followed Up With Cancelled Appointments Or Missed Calls

As a dentist, it’s generally a customary practice to follow up with a patient’s aftercare, especially after a procedure has been done or checkup, more so if there are cancelled appointments or missed calls. Doing so can help you identify and address potential issues that may lead to serious complications. Moreover, this way, you won’t be at risk of a negligence claim. 

If you did follow up with a patient’s post-op care, cancelled appointments, or missed calls, you must also provide proof of doing so. This might help you in court or help ensure your lawyer has more evidence to defend you efficiently.

Provide The Plaintiff’s Records 

It’s also essential to keep your patients’ records. This can be documentation showing how you tried to resolve a certain problem a patient had or if you referred them to another professional. Also, it can be a chart that demonstrates the decisions you made while treating a patient, the procedure you performed, or the interactions you had. 

All the above records are essential if someone sues you for dental malpractice. These may help you sufficiently defend yourself if you’re summoned to court. If you have a good lawyer, the documentation will assist them in planning an effective defense strategy.

Respond To The Dental Board’s Letter

If you receive a letter from the dental board about a complaint, ensure you respond to it as quickly as you can. When doing so, provide sufficient supporting evidence and tell your side of the story. Also, cooperate with the board so it can properly investigate the matter. 

If you’re innocent, it may be easier to prove it. And in some cases, you may avoid the issue you’re accused of escalating into a messy lawsuit.

Final Thoughts

As a dentist, ensuring proper care when treating your patients should be your priority. However, there may be instances wherein a client could sue you for dental malpractice. And in such a case, it’s essential to hire a reputable lawyer to help you with the legal process. 

And to further boost your chances of winning the case and proving your innocence, establish that the plaintiff knew their treatment or procedure’s risks through a signed consent form. You can also show the patient’s records and other proof you followed up with them for their aftercare. And lastly, respond swiftly to the dental board’s complaint letter and cooperate with the investigation. 

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