Matters of fact

...No explanation was provided as to why the facts as presented by the patient, Ms F, were so much at odds with the practice notes...

  • Date: 22 December 2008

A dental practice received a letter from the solicitors of a patient claiming negligence. Their client, Ms F, claimed to have attended the practice for an extraction. In the course of treatment another tooth was allegedly cracked and Ms F had to undergo an emergency apicectomy. It was further alleged that the dentist had failed to diagnose the crack and that Ms F had to attend a private dentist to have her dental treatment completed.

Correspondence with the lead partner at the practice and a review of the complete dental records of the patient revealed a different scenario. Ms F had indeed attended the practice complaining of pain in her upper right first molar and lower left second molar. On examination Ms F was advised that the teeth might need root canal treatment or extraction.

In the end the upper right first molar tooth was temporarily dressed to see if the pain would subside. This did occur and the patient had a permanent filling placed in the tooth. It was noted that the mesio-buccal cusp of the lower left 7 was cracked and it was removed and subsequently treated with a routine amalgam restoration.

Analysis and outcome

Ms F’s solicitors – when advised of the facts of the case – responded with confirmation that they would not be proceeding with the claim. No explanation was provided as to why the facts as presented by Ms F were so much at odds with the practice notes.

Key point

Good dental records will provide a strong defence when spurious allegations are made by solicitors acting on behalf of a claimant.

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