Our client was a young woman who went in for what she thought was going to be a routine wisdom tooth extraction. The dentist never discussed the potentail risks associated with wisdom tooth extraction, including nerve damage. On the day of the extraction, the dentist took an x-ray that revealed the wisdom tooth was severely impacted, which meant the extraction site was extremely close to the client's alveolar nerve. Despite seeing this on the x-ray, the dentist did not inform our client of the increased chance of nerve damage due to the fact that the tooth was severely impacted. Instead, the dentist performed the surgery and, in the process, damaged our client's lingual nerve.
Unfortunately, the nerve damage resulted in permanent paresthesia. Our client's lower right mouth, teeth, lips and gums were constantly numb and tingling. In addition, our client experienced pain from even a light touch that occurred when she ate food, applied chapstick, or kissed her husband.
The claim was brought under a lack of informed consent theory of negligence. In short, the informed consent process is designed to ensure communication between a patient and physician in which the physician disclosed and discussed the patient's diagnosis, the nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure, the risks and benefits of a proposed treatment or procedure, any alternatives to a proposed treatment or procedure along with the risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure, and the risks and benefits of not receiving or undergoing a treatment or procedure. Further, it provides the patient an opportunity to ask questions to elicit a better understanding of the treatment or procedure, so that she can make an informed decision to proceed or to refuse a particular course of medical intervention. If this informed consent discussion does not occur, then the patient loses his/her right to self-determination, bodily integrity, and to voluntariness as it relates to the patient's ability to make his/her own healthcare decisions.
The dentist denied negligence and causation. The dentist claimed that his staff had at least two discussions with our client about the potential risks and complications associated with the wisdom tooth extraction. Therefore, the dentist claimed that there was no breach of the standard of care and our client was not entitled to any recovery.
The parties reached a confidential $150,000 settlement through negotiation, without the need for the hassle, expense and delay associated with a lawsuit. Medical Malpractice claims are almost always defended vigorously because physicians do not want the settlement reported on their permanent record. Because these claims are intensely defended, it is important to have experienced personal injury lawyers on your side before attempting to bring any medical malpractice claim.
The attorneys at Mulvey, Cornell & Mulvey have over 30 years of experience successfully handling medical malpractice lawsuits. If you have been injured, please contact us immediately to discuss your claim. We will consult with you, evaluate your claim for free, and answer any questions you may have at absolutely no cost. You can come to our offices, which are located in Portsmouth, NH. Or, if it is more convenient, we will travel to your home to meet with you. We regularly travel to meet with clients anywhere in New Hampshire and throughout New England.