patient's medical records

Failure to Take Your Medical History May Constitute Dental Malpractice

Have you gone through a traumatic experience as the result of your dentist’s failure to take your medical history or keep it up to date? If so, you may very well be the victim of dental malpractice and entitled to compensation. The way to find out whether you have a viable dental malpractice lawsuit is to contact a dental malpractice attorney who has in-depth knowledge of the field and a track record of successful litigation. If you are in the New York City area, Lance Ehrenberg, Esq. of Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, is the person to contact.

You should be aware that not taking a patient’s medical history before performing a dental procedure, or even before doing a comprehensive examination, may be considered an act of negligence. Such a failure may endanger not only the patient’s mouth, teeth, and gums, but may put her/his general health at grave risk.

What a Full Medical History Should Include

Even if you have not paid much attention to medical history forms in the past, this article should be a reminder of how significant they are. If a dentist or other medical professional neglects to question patients about their past medical and surgical past, he/she may very well put that patient’s future at serious risk. To be thorough and protective, medical histories should include the following:

  • Current and past medical conditions, such as infectious diseases, blood disorders, organ dysfunctions, such as diabetes, kidney or heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma  
  • Surgeries, some of which, like joint replacement, may require prophylactic antibiotic use before dental procedures
  • Current medications, prescribed and over-the-counter, recreational drugs, botanicals 
  • Known allergies, including to anesthesia and latex
  • Current medical treatments, e.g. chemotherapy
  • Patient’s underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy
  • Pregnancy status
  • Primary care physician’s contact information
  • Emergency contact information

Although much of the time such information may not be relevant to the procedures your dentist plans to do, not having access to it may, under some circumstances, put your health, and even your life, at risk. Your medical history provides your dentist with the information he/she needs to protect you from a severe allergic reaction, excessive bleeding, a serious infection, or even a stroke. This is why failing to update a patient’s medical history is one of the primary reasons dentists are sued for malpractice.

Successful Dental Malpractice Lawsuits Are Based on Actual Harm

You should be aware that simply failing to take your medical history, however dangerous or irresponsible, is not sufficient cause for a lawsuit. In order to obtain damages, we must be able to prove that your dentist’s failure to take your medical history resulted directly in the injury, illness, or exacerbated symptoms you suffered.

Examples of personal injuries you may have experienced due to dental negligence are:

  • Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to medication, an anesthetic, or latex
  • Worsening of an underlying medical condition or exacerbation of symptoms
  • Causation of a medical event, such as an asthmatic attack, a seizure, a stroke, or a fractured bone
  • Complications of the current procedure due to the patient’s osteoporosis, immune suppression, and bleeding disorder from taking blood thinners
  • Possible negative impact on a pregnancy

It must be remembered that it takes a highly-skilled, experienced dental malpractice attorney to formulate a successful legal strategy, usually including the testimony of expert medical witnesses, to prove that your dentist’s failure to take or update your medical history is the cause of your injury.

What a Competent Dental Malpractice Lawyer Can Provide

Having a savvy dental malpractice attorney like Lance Ehrenberg, is essential to your case since, in addition to litigating your case, he will:

  • Take over all communications with opposing attorneys and insurance adjusters
  • Investigate to find any evidence of your dentist’s prior history of similar negligence 
  • Consult with appropriate medical experts who may testify in court on your behalf
  • Keep you apprised of any important developments in your case

The most important thing he will provide, of course, is skillful legal advocacy and personal support, both in and out of the courtroom. 

Damages Your Dental Malpractice Lawyer Will Fight to Obtain

Potential compensation will, of course, depend on the unique circumstances of your particular experience, but may include economic damages for medical costs and lost income and non-economic damages for pain and suffering or long-term disability.

Your Dentist, Like All Healthcare Professionals, Must Take Your Medical History Seriously

At Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York, we know all too well how thoughtlessness or haste on the part of your dentist can adversely affect your life. That’s why we’re in the business of fighting aggressively for your right to just compensation.

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.