Do I have a case of negligence ifI swallowed my tooth during removal at the dentist’s office?

I saw a dentist and as he was pulling a tooth (that was previously a root canal) I swallowed it. I was sent to the ER because the tooth had a metal post inside it and was filled with metal also. Several weeks have passed but this thing has not. I have had several X-rays and the last one showed it was hung behind a valve in my colon. I will see a G.I. doctor next week and discuss a colonoscopy but this procedure cannot be done in the office. I will have to go to the hospital to have a foreign object removed.

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Georgia

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question.  However, the answer to your question is not a simple “yes” or “no.”  Negligence actions of medical professionals, including dentists, can be quite difficult to prove.  There are four elements to prove in a all negligence actions: (1) Duty, (2) Breach of that duty, (3) that breach Caused (4) damages or harm to you.  In your circumstances, it appears that you may have the damages and harm, but that alone would not be enough to be successful in a negligence action against your dentist.

In your situation, the main hurdle would be to demonstrate that your dentist did something that he/she was not supposed to do, and that their action has caused you your current state of health.  In your question you stated that you swallowed something during your dental visit.  In this scenario, you would have had to have swallowed it because the dentist did something wrong, and not because of your own actions. For instance, if your dentist advised you to keep your mouth open or not to move some object they put in your mouth, and then you in turn did not listen to your dentist’s instructions, then your dentist would not be liable for this incident.  However, if your dentist did not take the necessary precautions and uphold reasonable care for his/her profession, then they could be held liable. 

Since these cases can be complicated, you may find it more helpful to find a personal injury attorney in your area that can assist you.  If the attorney believes that you could have a successful case, they will charge a contingency fee, which means that they will take a percentage of your award from the case, but will not charge you in order to work on your case.

 


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