Articles Posted in Dental Malpractice

The Maryland high court provides a good look at just how complicated the implications of joint tortfeasor releases can be in Hashmi v. Bennett, a medical malpractice case filed against Good Samaritan Hospital of Maryland and a number of other medical providers.

Plaintiffs’ filed a medical malpractice survival action/wrongful death lawsuit claiming defendants failed to diagnose and treat plaintiffs’ father, a 27-year-old man, who showed signs and symptoms of progressive septic methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and was treated instead with Ambien to help him sleep.

Good Samaritan Hospital settled the case for $550,000 and the claim against the emergency room practice, and the ER doctor settled for $400,000. The case against the doctor at the hospital who treated the patient was taken to verdict and a Baltimore City jury awarded Plaintiffs $2,295,000, which was reduced by the Maryland medical malpractice cap to $1,795,000.

Sometimes, lawyers or potential clients will ask for a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who focuses on dental malpractice cases. I laugh. No malpractice lawyers focus on dental malpractice cases. Why? Typically, the damages are insignificant. This was not the problem in a South Carolina malpractice lawsuit that went to verdict last week.

A 25-year-old female plaintiff claimed she chipped an upper front tooth and went to Sexton Dental Clinic in Florence for treatment. Most medical malpractice attorneys reading this story expect that the doctor made a mistake that caused patient harm, but not the type of injury that would justify a medical malpractice lawsuit. Well, the doctor came in and pulled all 16 of her upper teeth without looking at the treatment plan or obtaining her permission. The dentist then allegedly altered the patients’ medical records to create the appearance that the patient had consented to having more than three teeth pulled.

This is a real problem for a defendant’s medical malpractice lawyer. But this dentist was just getting started. Defendant’s attorney conceded in an opening statement that some number of teeth had been pulled without the plaintiff’s consent, but that it had been a mistake. But the doctor went all in. He claimed that there had been no mistake and that he had pulled all 16 teeth without looking at the agreed-upon treatment plan and without first obtaining the plaintiff’s consent. This makes no sense.

Our law firm generally avoids dental malpractice claims because the injuries – while often incredibly significant to the patient – rarely involve the kind of permanent injuries that are required for a malpractice case. Interestingly, I stumbled across data that showed that there were 766 dental malpractice payments made in Maryland between 1990 and 2003. That is almost 5 claims a month, which is more than I would have thought. I wonder (1) how many of these dental medical malpractice claims in Maryland involved a lawyer, (2) what the average dental malpractice settlement is in Maryland, and (3) how many claims were settled without a lawyer.

The following are a few Marland dental malpractice cases that resulted in a verdict:

  • 2014, Montgomery County: $129,742 Verdict. A woman suffered persistent nerve pain after a dental surgeon attempted to place an implant into her lower jaw. She contended that the surgeon failed to set her nerve aside before starting the procedure and failed to properly assess her bone density before operating. The woman also contended that he used excessive force and used an obsolete implant system.  She also claimed that he failed to present other treatment options. The surgeon denied her allegations, contending that his techniques were appropriate. A Montgomery County jury awarded the woman $129,742.