Do you remember “The Junior Mint” episode of Seinfeld? One of Elaine’s ex-boyfriends is having a splenectomy, and Kramer is so concerned a doctor lets him and Jerry observe the surgery from the viewing gallery. Kramer brings along some snacks, and a Junior Mint ends up falling down from the gallery into the patient without anyone on the surgical team noticing. The man is sewn up with the piece of candy inside and later develops an infection. Although this scenario is obviously meant to be humorous, a lot of patients really do end up with foreign objects inside their bodies after undergoing medical procedures, including dental procedures.
Staten Island Man Finds Dental Drill Bit in His Lungs
A few years ago a man from the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island brought a lawsuit against his dentist after a chest x-ray revealed his unexplained health problems stemmed from having a dental drill bit embedded in his lungs.
According to the NY Post, the man “testified that he nearly choked to death when the tool broke off mid-procedure” and had to be “’punched’… in the back until he could breathe again.”
“He overheard an exchange between [the dentist] and her assistant about an instrument needing to be replaced because it had broken” but he “didn’t realize anything had happened” because there were cotton balls in his mouth.
A jury awarded the injured man $430,000, but that verdict was overturned on appeal because the court didn’t think there was enough evidence presented to prove that the dentist sued was actually the one that had caused the injured. The court said it was possible that the injury had been caused by a previous dentist.
Contact an Attorney Right Away if You Think Something is Amiss
The appellate court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict is a good reminder of how important it is to bring malpractice actions as soon as an injury is discovered. If you feel like something weird happened to you during a dental procedure, you should talk to an attorney with experience trying dental malpractice cases immediately.
An experienced attorney is going to be able to help you:
- Gather necessary evidence about the issue at hand like charts and other documents prepared by the dentist’s office.
- Preserve your current memories about the experience you had at the dentist so you can more accurately recall them after time has passed.
- Collect relevant information about the dentist and assistants that treated you.
- Find other dentists that can provide an expert opinion about what happened, and, if necessary, provide remedial treatment.
- Document all the costs the dental injury has caused, like extra dental work and lost wages.
Pulling together as much of this information as possible will ensure you have a strong claim when it comes time to negotiate a settlement or head to trial.
Don’t Put Off Contacting an Attorney
Memories fade and hard evidence is more difficult to gather as time passes, so don’t delay contacting an attorney if you think you might have a dental malpractice claim, or even if all that happens is something weird and then you start to feel ill for no apparent reason. You never know if further investigation might reveal a Junior Mint or a drill bit.