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Can You Sue Your Oral Surgeon for Medical Malpractice?

By: Anapol Weiss

When we entrust our oral health to a specialist like an oral surgeon, we expect a high standard of care. Oral surgery encompasses complex procedures that go beyond routine dental care, and as such, patients may face greater risks. If an oral surgeon's negligence results in harm, Pennsylvania law provides a pathway for patients to seek justice through medical malpractice claims. This comprehensive guide explains how you can hold an oral surgeon accountable if you believe they have compromised your health and well-being through substandard care.

Understanding Medical Malpractice in Oral Surgery

Medical malpractice in oral surgery occurs when the care provided falls below the accepted standard within the oral surgical community, leading to patient injury. Oral surgeons perform a variety of procedures involving not only the teeth but also the jaw, gums, and facial structure. Given the complexity and risks associated with such procedures, the stakes are naturally higher.

Examples of Oral Surgery Malpractice

Common scenarios that might constitute malpractice in oral surgery include, but are not limited to:

Failing to Properly Diagnose a Condition

Errors such as missing malignant tumors or misdiagnosing conditions that require specific surgical approaches can lead to delayed or inappropriate treatments.

Improper Treatment of Conditions

Oral surgeons are expected to provide suitable treatment based on accurate diagnoses. Incorrect treatment might involve using outdated techniques or inappropriate medications, which can exacerbate the condition or lead to new complications.

Failing to Refer a Patient to a Specialist

When an oral health condition falls outside the oral surgeon's expertise, it is their duty to refer the patient to a specialist better suited to handle the condition. Failure to refer can result in untreated or improperly treated conditions that worsen.

Lack of Informed Consent

It is crucial for patients to understand the risks associated with any surgical procedure. Oral surgeons must clearly explain all potential risks, benefits, and alternatives before conducting a procedure. Failure to obtain informed consent can be grounds for a malpractice claim if harm results.

Surgical Mistakes

These might include incorrect incisions, damage to surrounding nerves or tissues, or the improper use of surgical instruments, leading to significant pain, long-term disability, or disfigurement.

Failing to Properly Supervise Employees

Oral surgeons must ensure their team members properly execute their roles during procedures. If a mistake by a surgical assistant or anesthetic technician leads to patient harm due to inadequate supervision, the surgeon may be held liable.

Infection Control Failures

Maintaining a sterile environment is critical in any surgical setting. Failures in infection control, such as improperly sterilized instruments or contaminated surfaces, can lead to severe infections, complicating recovery and potentially leading to long-term health issues.

Anesthesia Complications

Anesthesia must be carefully administered and monitored. Complications from incorrect dosages or failure to monitor patient vitals or account for medical histories and allergies can result in significant consequences, including permanent injury or death.

Criteria for Filing a Malpractice Lawsuit in Pennsylvania

To establish that malpractice has occurred, you must demonstrate several elements:

  • Duty of Care: The oral surgeon had a duty to provide competent care.
  • Breach of Duty: The surgeon violated the standard of care.
  • Causation: This breach directly caused the injury or harm.
  • Damages: You suffered actual harm or injury as a result of the breach.

Initial Legal Consultation

The first step in pursuing a malpractice claim is to consult with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. The team at Anapol Weiss is experienced in handling such cases across Pennsylvania and can offer you a thorough evaluation of your case.

Comprehensive Evidence Collection

Your attorney will gather all pertinent medical records, expert opinions, and other forms of evidence that substantiate your claim. Documentation might include surgical records, anesthesia logs, and follow-up care notes.

Expert Testimony

Given the specialized nature of oral surgery, expert witnesses play a crucial role in explaining the complexities of the procedure and the breach of standard care to a jury. These experts are typically experienced oral surgeons who can offer an authoritative perspective on what should have been done differently.

Statute of Limitations

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date the harm was or should have been discovered. However, specific nuances could extend this period. Prompt consultation with legal counsel is essential to ensure you meet all legal deadlines.

Potential Outcomes and Compensation

If your medical malpractice case is successful, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Covering current and future medical treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation costs related to the malpractice.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for both physical pain and emotional distress endured.
  • Lost Wages: If your injury has impacted your ability to work, these financial losses can be recovered.
  • Punitive Damages: Though rare, in cases of gross negligence, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the practitioner and deter similarly egregious behavior.

Contact Anapol Weiss Today to Schedule a Free Consultation To Discuss Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

If you suspect that your oral surgeon's actions have led to a significant deterioration in your health, securing a legal assessment from Anapol Weiss can be the first step towards understanding and asserting your rights. Our firm stands ready to help you navigate through the complexities of your malpractice claim, aiming to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.

Legal Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Since the intricacies of each case vary, obtaining personalized legal advice is crucial.