dental office

Can I Claim Malpractice If My Dentist Referred Me to the Wrong Specialist?

The answer may very well be Yes. The only way you will know for sure, however, is to consult with an experienced dental malpractice lawyer. At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, Lance Ehrenberg, Esq. has been tackling such cases for many years and knows precisely what circumstances characterize dental malpractice. Once he meets with you and learns the particulars of your situation, he will be able to assess whether you have a viable malpractice claim. If so, he will work tirelessly to create and present the strategy most likely to win you maximum damages. And remember, your initial consultation is free.

Wise professionals in any field know their own limitations. This is why arrogance is a dangerous trait, especially in health care. Whereas for centuries dentistry was one discipline, by the beginning of the 20th century, dental specialties began to branch off, first orthodontics and subsequently the more than 10 disciplines that now exist (e.g. pediatric dentistry; periodontics; prosthodontics; oral and maxillofacial surgery). 

While each type of dentist has some training in all of these areas, patients who require specialized care are referred to dentists who specialize in treating their particular problem. 

Furthermore, alert, responsible dentists are always on the lookout for systemic conditions that require medical specialists in other fields.

It is their duty to send patients they suspect of having such conditions to the proper type of physician — be it endocrinologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, or oncologist. Dentists reluctant to act on their intuitions or suspicions may be seriously jeopardizing their patient’s health and even putting their patients’ lives at increased risk.

Examples of Dental Malpractice Due to Failure to Refer Patients to Specialists

Examples of this type of dental malpractice are not hard to find. They may occur when a dentist:

  • Fails to refer you to an oral surgeon for a complicated procedure that results in a serious infection.
  • Fails to get a consultation with your medical MD about diabetes
  • Refers you to another dentist or doctor who provides you with substandard care and exacerbates the problem.

The strength of your case will depend on the severity of your injury and the fact that your dentist can be proven to be liable for the harm you suffered. If you developed a bacterial infection quickly cured with antibiotics, for example, you have a less winnable case than one in which your undiagnosed oral cancer metastasized.

How Our Dental Malpractice Attorney Gathers Evidence to Prove Your Case

There are certain steps that a reliable dentist must take to make it clear that she or he is providing a proper duty of care to the patient during a referral. These include:

  • Explaining why the patient needs a specialist to be protected from increased risk
  • Not consenting to perform a negligent act even if the patient refuses to consult
  • Documenting the patient’s “informed refusal” of the recommended referral
  • Sharing all records regarding the patient’s dental and medical history with the specialist
  • Doing due diligence by making sure the dentist or doctor the patient is referred to has appropriate credentials and a reputation for skill and good judgment 
  • Continuing to communicate with the professional to whom the patient was referred and with the patient themselves, to make certain the case is being properly handled.

Although your dentist should be aware that keeping in touch with you is key to preventing further health problems and quite possibly avoiding a costly, time-consuming dental malpractice lawsuit, not all professionals are as informed or careful as they should be. If your dentist has not followed these directives, he or she may be legally held responsible for your pain and suffering under the grounds of “vicarious liability.”

Contact Our Dental Malpractice Office for Experienced Legal Representation 

If you have suffered an injury because either [1] your dentist failed to refer your complicated case to a specialist or [2] your dentist referred you to a specialist who provided inadequate care, call Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York now. You can trust us to be compassionate as well as highly competent as we fight aggressively to win you the damages you deserve

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.