Awake and in pain during wisdom tooth extraction?

by Margaret
(Fishkill, NY, USA)

My daughter had four wisdom teeth extracted. She was sedated and received lidocaine. Half way through the procedure she woke up from the sedation and they had used all of the lidocaine they could. The dentist continued to finish the procedure, pulling two impacted wisdom teeth even though he could no longer provide any sedation or lidocaine.

My daughter is 17 and would not complain in front of the dentist, but is was evident she was and had been crying when I came into the room to get her. She didn't say anything until we left the office, then she told me that she was awake and in pain for the second half of the procedure.

The left side of her mouth, the side she was sedated for, is healing on schedule. But the other side is still quite painful. We have been for one follow up visit where they indicated she did not have dry socket. We are going back for another post-op office visit tomorrow.

Should the dentist have stopped the procedure if he knew he was having trouble keeping her sedated and was going through lidocaine so quickly? At the very least, should the dentist have consulted with me, sitting in the waiting room, for options on weather to continue or have us return on another day to extract the other two teeth? Is this a malpractice case?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Awake and in pain during wisdom tooth extraction?":

Margaret (Fishkill, NY, USA):

Whether or not the dentist should have stopped the procedure will depend upon whether the dentist thought doing so would have placed your daughter in danger, or would have made the process unnecessarily extended and even more painful, especially in light of the inability to further sedate your daughter.

Moreover, it is also important to know if the dentist had stopped to consult with you, would that have left your daughter in unnecessary and prolonged pain while you and the dentist discussed what the dentist would do.

Sometimes, even under the best of circumstances, procedures go wrong. That is the nature of dentistry.

In the alternative, if it can be shown your daughter would not have experienced unnecessary pain if the dentist had stopped the procedure - to allow your daughter to return at a later date, or to take the time to discuss the procedure with you - then the dentist may have erred. Still, that error, in and of itself is not grounds for a dental malpractice claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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