Should I seek legal help for this dentist's poor treatment?

by M
(Dallas, Texas, USA)

On June 12, I had major dental appointment to remove all old crowns and bridges and replace them with temporaries, and whatever was required to make that happen. I was under IV sedation for 6 hours. I went home very groggy with no written care instructions.

On June 13, I returned to the dentist for follow up. My mouth was extremely swollen and painful and there was no way for the dentist to examine my mouth. The dentist did state that the swelling was normal.

On June 14, my mouth took a serious turn for the worse and I went back to the dentist's office. Now my lips were all blistered and swollen and severely painful.

I asked for an antibiotic, but dentist said he did not think that was necessary, although he also said he never saw such a thing, and thought it would just have to run its course. He prescribed an antiseptic mouth wash.

On June 18th, I went back to the dentist. My mouth continued to be a painful blistered mess. Again this dentist claimed she never saw such a thing and said it will just have to run its course.

On June 19th, I went to see my medical doctor. She took one look at my mouth and said it was Herpes. We took a blood test to confirm and she prescribed antiviral meds to aid in the healing and pain. The blood test came back positive for herpes simplex virus IGG and IGM (exposure to virus) (incubation period is 2-12 days) and positive for herpes simplex IgM. I have the virus Now!

I was relieved to finally get help with recovery but most upset with my diagnosis. I have been infected with a virus that will be with me for the rest of my life. I am 67 years old. I have never had a cold sore or been treated for anything like this.

I have been extremely ill with pain, headaches, muscle aches, stress, not to mention, very contagious for the past week with absolutely no help from my dentist. They took no steps whatsoever to find out what was wrong with my mouth and try to help me. I can't believe that a dental office would not have a clue about oral herpes.

Om June 26th, I went back to the dentist to tell them I have lost all confidence in them and I cannot let them complete my work, and I would like a reasonable refund of my $21,000. They told me that all but $2,300 of work has been done. Now I am still in temporaries and have all the adjustments and the permanent teeth to put in.

My question is, should I get legal help to try to recover more of my expenses? And is there any way to hold them responsible for infecting me with this virus and the stress and pain and medical bills, now and for the rest of my life? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Should I seek legal help for this dentist's poor treatment?":

M (Dallas, Texas):

According to WebMD, symptoms of genital herpes can appear within a few days to several months after the initial infection. In your case, there is a solid argument you weren't previously exposed to Herpes, and that you were infected at the dentist's office.

Send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to your dentist asking he or she immediately send you copies of all your dental records. You have a legal right to copies of those records.

If your dentist is a "covered entity" he or she is also subject to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). A covered entity is any dentist that bills and transmits patients' medical information electronically, verbally or written.

Read more about requesting medical records here.

Also ask your medical doctor for copies of your medical records as they directly relate to your Herpes diagnosis and prognosis. Be sure to ask for the doctor's written medical opinion, stating that prior to your visit with the dentist you were not infected with the Herpes virus.

Your injuries are too serious for you to handle your injury claim by yourself. You can be confident the dentist will not admit liability and will turn any claim you may file over to his or her insurance company.

Immediately, or as soon as is reasonable possible, contact one or more personal injury attorneys in your area. Fortunately, most reputable injury attorneys do not charge any fee for an initial office consultation. Bring along all of your dental and medical records.

From the facts you present, it appears you have a solid personal injury claim against the dentist. This is true even if one of his or her employees was the person who infected you. Dentists are responsible for the acts and omissions of their employees, while the employees are acting within the scope of their employment.

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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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION