Can I sue for unnecessary dental procedure? 12 Answers as of February 27, 2013

If the dentist gave me a root canal and shaved down my tooth instead of just giving me a filling, can I sue? My mouth isn't the same. Before I go to a lawyer, do I need one or more than one dentist or a specialist to confirm that the x-ray shows I only needed a filling done? And if that happens do I need more edvidence? Please help and give much details as possible as of what you would want your client to have. Thank you.

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Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
You need to find out from a dentist whether or not this guy was wrong. Then you need to determine the cost of fixing it. Lawsuits are a business; if the cost of doing the suit eats up all the money you could hope to get, then it is a lousy business deal.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/27/2013
Law Office of Christian Menard
Law Office of Christian Menard | Christian Menard
To prove a case against a dentist, or any other health care practitioner for that matter, you need to prove the practitioner was negligent. This can only be proved, in almost all cases, by expert opinion. An expert in the field of the practitioner you want to sue is needed. In your case, you need to first obtain all of your dental records, including all imaging studies taken, and take them to a second dentist. You should have him/her review your records, exam you and have him render an opinion as to whether the first dentist was negligent. If so, then you have established negligence. The next issue is damages, what if any, damage did the "unnecessary procedure" cause you. Is the damage temporary or permanent, as this will dramatically affect your damages. This issue can be established by the second dentist's opinion. However, if the second dentist tells you that the first dentist was negligent and that the negligence caused you damage, make sure he/she is willing to say so under oath. There is a code of silence out there in the medical/dental communities. Some practitioner's sill not see you if they know there is possible litigation. Some will tell you what the truth is, but not agree to say so under oath as they do not want to get involved. Then there are others who take the high road and do the right thing and go on the record with it as they view it their duty to weed out the bad practitioners from the good.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/26/2013
Henry Lebensbaum | Henry Lebensbaum
It is hard to believe that the dental would have provided this procedure without your consent. Yes you can consult a lawyer and find out what your rights. This is a tough one.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 2/25/2013
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Dental malpractice cases are always difficult to prove, as well as expensive and time consuming. You will have to be able to prove a failure to conform to accepted practice, and resulting injury as well, and expert witness testimony is required for that reason. You will have to have a dentist examine your records and state an opinion that the previous dentist failed to follow accepted procedure. In order to be able to pursue the matter, the consequences would have to be severe enough to merit a substantial enough recovery to justify the time and expense.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/25/2013
Michael E. Wasserman, Esq | Michael E. Wasserman
You can bring a claim for unnecessary dental treatment or possibly misrepresentation though your damages are quite limited and the cost of proceeding against the dentist would prohibitive. If you have a dentist that can confirm that you did not need a root canal, if the dentist is a member of the California Dental Association, you could file a peer review complaint at no cost to you. Your other alternative might be Small Claims. l
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/25/2013
    Robert Kubler | Robert Kubler
    Yes you can sue, but the question should be can you win and what. You said it was an "unnecessary dental procedure." Who said this, you or another dentist. If your tooth was just sensitive to hot or cold water I would think a root canal is unnecessary. However if you had a major toothache then the pulp was exposed and infected. With a toothache you could either pull the tooth, have an implant or a root canal. But in the end a filling would not be appropriate as the infection is getting to the pulp. There is something called a direct/indirect pulp cap filling for exposed pulp for a heavily decayed tooth but its not a standard option as there is not much research on it in adults; it is mostly for children since the tooth will fall out, thus the cost of a root canal is not justified. There are some examples of it in adults but it does not immediately stop the pain, does not remove all the decay and may cause more pain later on from irritation of the pulp from some types of composites. Not a great option which is why dentists don't do it much on adults. X-Rays are not enough. You could go ahead and see another dentist. However most dentists will not be of help as they are reluctant to talk about another's dentist's work. You may have to hire an expert who would be willing to testify and look at your dental files. Regarding what I would have a client do: I would first interview them and instruct them to gather copies of all their dental files and x-rays and get a second opinion from a dentist/expert.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    You probably don't have a case. How would you know what good dental practice is in any event you need one dentist who agrees that you have a case and agrees to testify for You careful of expert witness fees and other costs.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C.
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C. | Jim Hasser
    My guess is you signed a waiver and consent form to the surgery before you had it, giving the dentist permission to do as he or she saw fit. To show the dentist operated without your permission, you will have to show that you didn't consent. To show the dentist did an unnecessary procedure, you will have to have another dentist testify under oath that you were injured because your dentist failed to follow proper protocol. Because this is so expensive and time consuming, most medical malpractice cases are impractical to pursue. Your best bet is to get your dentist or another one to fix the problem and move on. You might want to consider a complaint to the medical board. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    If the dentist was performing the procedure correctly and did not vary from dental procedure you would not have a case. You would need another dentist to state that what was done was not correct.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC | Bruce A. Curry
    In order to recover on a dental malpractice claim, an expert witness (dentist) would need to present the opinion that your dentist fell below the applicable standard of care in your treatment. Absent such an opinion, you will not be able to recover.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    James L. Daniels Attorney at Law L.L.C. | James Louis Daniels
    If the dentist breached the standard of care required in this circumstance then you would have a valid compensable claim. It would be advisable to obtain the opinion of one or more dentist. Ask them whether the procedure was warranted and if not then was it in their opinion a breach of the standard of care to preform it under the circumstances. Logo 2 (3) 110 E.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 2/25/2013
    Law Offices of Mark West
    Law Offices of Mark West | Mark West
    Yes, you would need a dentist of at least the same level of practice as the dentist who performed the root canal to testify that the dentist did an unnecessary procedure and the procedure caused you harm. If you sued the dentist, he and his insurance company (and lawyer) would also have an expert testify that 1, the root canal was a "judgment call' and/or 2, that no real harm was done by doing a root canal (or that it would have had to have a root canal in the future anyway). Dental malpractice cases are, like medical malpractice cases, difficult to prove and expensive to prove.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/25/2013
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