Can I sue my orthodontist for medical malpractice?
A New York appellate panel recently ruled to revive a medical malpractice suit against an orthodontist who was accused of providing negligent treatment when repositioning a patient’s tooth. The lawsuit was originally dismissed on summary judgment after the trial court held that the plaintiff’s expert medical witness was not qualified to testify. In reviewing the case, the appellate court declined to adopt the trial court’s position and instead found the licensed dentist qualified to provide his expert opinion on whether the defendant departed from accepted dental and orthopedic practice.
Facts of the Case
The case at issue is Paul Dyckes v. Richard Stabile et al., case number 2015-05540. The patient, Paul Dyckes, asserts that the defendant orthodontist provided negligent treatment while attempting to reposition an impacted tooth. Treatment was provided over an eight-year period and included the use of braces. As a result of defendant’s treatment, the plaintiff claims he suffered bone loss that led to extraction of five teeth. After the initial dismissal due to claims the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified, plaintiff will now get a chance to bring the action and have a court determine whether the defendant’s medical care could be considered negligent.
Orthodontists and Medical Malpractice
Orthodontists are specialized dentists that assist patients with primarily tooth alignment issues. Orthodontists, like other medical professionals, are held to standards of competency with regards to their treatment of patients. If an orthodontist fails to meet the requisite standard of care, he or she could be liable for medical malpractice.
Orthopedic malpractice cases are complex and to be viable, your medical malpractice case must meet stringent standards. It is not enough that you suffered a dental injury or your tooth alignment was not successful to bring a malpractice action. Rather, you must demonstrate that you were a patient of the orthodontist, the orthodontist provided negligent care, you suffered an injury as a result, and the injury was caused by the orthodontist’s negligence.
Medical malpractice cases involving orthodontists will often revolve around the orthodontist’s failure to properly apply braces or monitor patients with braces, which could result in pain, dental disease, jaw problems, or loss of teeth. Additionally, errors by the orthodontist can include a failure to take appropriate X Rays, failure to properly interpret those X Rays, or a failure to carry out a proper treatment plan tailored to the patient. The use of Invisalign, an alternative to traditional braces, can also present issues if applied to a patient who does not qualify for this treatment. Anyone who has suffered an injury as a result of an orthodontic procedure should consult with a dental malpractice attorney for assistance