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When Dental Surgery Goes Wrong…

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The blame game.

Who do we blame when things don’t go as planned?  Does that entitle one to $$?  I am not a lawyer, so I am not dispensing legal advice, but perhaps a perspective may help.

Nobody is perfect.  Nothing works 100% of the time.  Nothing in dentistry lasts forever.  Nothing in Dentistry is permanent.
I was asked on another forum, “if dental surgery goes wrong, who is responsible?”

Truthfully, “it depends.”  Why is it wrong?  Were the porcelain veneers the wrong shade?  In some people’s minds, it “went wrong” yet others would say it is just opinion.  This usually can be avoided by clear communication DURING the process.

Most of the time, open communication during care avoids “things going wrong.”  Often, there are signatures collected along the way permitting the dentist to continue to the next step.  When the case is complete, should the patient decide they are not satisfied, they have nobody to blame.

And sometimes things just “happen” with no fault to anyone.  Courts of law have established that NOTHING is without risk, and if an event happens (while rare) there is no fault.

Most dentists do their best to make things right, within reason.  Refunds are usually pointless, as 99% of the time simply doing the case over satisfies all parties.  If a filling doesn’t feel right, let the dentist do it over.  If the filling is done 3 times without satisfaction, perhaps something else was the issue.  Sometimes a nerve of a tooth should be treated and not JUST a filling.

If dentures are fabricated, it would be considered unreasonable to just demand a refund if satisfaction is not met.  Dentures take many visits to do well, and hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars in lab work.  To say “I am not satisfied and want my money back,” is considered unreasonable by the juries.

If a crown is placed in a person’s mouth that continues to drink acidic drinks or has decreased salivary flow and does not change their hygiene habits, the crown will not last.  Is it the dentist’s fault?  While statistics say crowns last an average of 5 years, many crowns last much longer.  That would imply that many last much less.  Who is to blame?

More often than not, there is no blame to be placed.  There ARE cases of negligence or poor care, but those cases are rare.  Most “failings” in a dental office are simply due to the many variables involved.  There is no fault.
As stated earlier, this is a dental office and not a law firm.

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