This is a High Court appeal against a Magistrates court’s decision favoring the plaintiff, B in a case against the defendant, Dr. A, a dentist. B claimed negligence in a dental crown procedure by Dr. A, resulting in pain, inability to chew, and a tooth root infection.
B’s claims against Dr. A are:
- Failed and neglected to do a proper crowning on the Plaintiff’s upper right molar.
- Failed and neglected in fitting the cones of the Plaintiff’s root tooth as it was extended into the Plaintiff’s tooth bone.
- Negligent in fitting the Plaintiff’s cones’ root tooth as one of them was too long and curled into the Plaintiff’s tooth bone.
- Made a wrong decision and negligent in doing a deep scaling after the Plaintiff’s complaint of pain which caused Plaintiff to suffer more pain and trauma.
- Negligent in making a proper crown on the said teeth as it was higher than the rest of the tooth caused Plaintiff to suffer pain and made her have no alternative but to consult other dentists to cure it (p.110).
The defendant in this case raised concerns about the appropriate standard of care. It was argued that the magistrate mistakenly applied the standard of a specialist in endodontics, while Dr. A, a general practitioner in a private clinic, asserts that the standard relevant to a general practitioner in prosthodontics should apply.
The High Court allowed the appeal, dismissing the negligence claim due to lack of duty breach & failure to prove causation. The court found the magistrate had erred regarding the standard of care expected from the defendant, asserting it should be that of a general dental practitioner in prosthodontics.
Causation was also disproven as expert evidence indicated the alleged breach of duty did not foreseeably cause the plaintiff’s issues, which were instead attributed to a different dentist’s root canal treatment.
This dental malpractice case study serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks and liabilities that dental professionals may encounter during their careers. While the pursuit of excellence and unwavering commitment to patient care should always be at the forefront of a dentist’s practice, it is also essential to recognize the importance of protecting one’s career and financial security.
In the ever-evolving landscape of dentistry, an indemnity protection plan is a prudent choice for those who seek to practice with confidence, resilience, and a commitment to the highest standards of patient care. We encourage all dental professionals to explore the protection plans available and make informed decisions to protect your future.