Responsibility for infection after tooth extraction?

by lillian
(hyannis ma)

I had a molar pulled some months ago. Now I have a hole from my tooth area to my sinus and it is infected. The dentist said they never heard of this happening before. I have gone in again for a cleaning since that time and they told me to go to an oral surgeon.

I called my dentist today to tell them I have a peanut stuck in the hole, and asked them if I should go to the hospital or to see them. They just asked me if I thought I needed to go to the hospital. I have an appointment on Friday for them to look at it.

The surgeon that they referred me to is two hours away. That's why I haven't gone yet. I have Massachusetts state funded insurance. I also work so I'm having a hard time working it in. Isn't this the responsibility of my dentist to fix? Can they just tell me to go to an oral surgeon and have it fixed (and pay for it) when they caused the problem? What can I do? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Responsibility for infection after tooth extraction?":

Lllian (hyannis ma):

Your dentist may have acted out of an abundance of caution. The dentist may just not be qualified to extract the peanut. While that sounds odd, your dentist may have a legitimate reason for referring you out. The good news is that your dentist is going to take a look at the problem tooth.

The issue of payment for the prospective oral surgery is tenuous. If, after seeing you on Friday your dentist admits it was her error, then she should pay for the oral surgery you require. It is doubtful your dentist will admit to having caused an unnecessary hole in your sinus cavity.

Your dentist will likely tell you the hole is a customary residual aspect of the molar being removed. If this is the case, and the dentist persists in sending you to an oral surgeon, then you may need to consider alternative action.

If your dentist doesn’t give you a satisfactory response, you must not wait an unreasonable amount of time to have the peanut removed. The law requires you to "mitigate" your damages. In other words, you can’t wait around and let your dental problem worsen. The law requires you to take all reasonable steps necessary to protect your heath.

If all else fails, you can consider legal action against the dentist. You can sue your dentist for up to $7,000.00 in any State of Massachusetts Small Claims Court. You can include in your lawsuit a request to be compensated for the cost of oral surgery, out of pocket expenses for medications, etc., any lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.

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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