In my last three blog posts part one, part two, and part three, I discussed the recent ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court involving when the Statute of Limitations should be tolled in a particular case. The case in point was a case that involved a woman who was receiving dental care for implants and later for a prosthetic.
None of the courts (the Trial Court, the Appellate Court, nor the Supreme Court) addressed the issue of whether or not there was Dental Malpractice committed in the placement of the implants since the trial court granted summary judgement to the Defendant and the Plaintiff’s appeals were addressing the issue of the improper granting of summary judgement, and not whether or not Dental Malpractice had been committed.
Since the Georgia Supreme Court remanded the case back to the trial court reversing the trial court’s ruling of summary judgement, at some point in the future the trial court will hear this case, unless the case settles out of court, and the issue will be at that time will be, in large part, whether or not there was Dental Malpractice when the Plaintiff was treated for dental implants.
The following are some of the important questions that should be asked and answered to determine whether or not dental malpractice has occurred when a patient requests dental implants, and why these questions are important:
1.) Was the Patient’s Need for a Dental Implant Documented?
Why is this important? Presence of one or more of the following indicate that a dental implant may be necessary: (1) a single missing tooth with the potential for preservation of the adjacent teeth; (2) a dental gap requiring more than one implant with the potential for preservation of tooth substance with and a clear disadvantage for conventional therapy; (3) a free-end gap with posterior teeth in the opposing jaw that contraindicate removing partial dentures; (4) reduced residual dentition with only one to three remaining teeth that indicated a need for implants to provide support for a fixed partial denture; and (5) an edentulous upper or lower jaw.
2.) Was a Thorough Medical History Obtained?
Why is this important? Past Medical History (PMH) includes all past and current illness, hospitalizations, surgery, trauma, allergies, and medications. The date, location, and physician/surgeon for each hospitalization and/or surgery should also be included if available. Of particular importance are medications for oral manifestations including, but not limited to, immuno-suppressives, antibiotics, cardiac medications, and psychotropics.
3.) Were any Contra-Indications for Dental Implants Identified?
Why is this important? The contra-indications include, but are not limited to, alcoholism, bleeding disorders, bone disease, cancer patients, cardiac disease, corticosteroids, diabetes, hyposalivation, immunocompromised patients, mucosal disease, neuro-psychiatric disorders and titanium allergy.
4.) Was the Patient Advised of the Risk Factors that Could Lead to Implant Failure?
Why is this important? In situations with an enhanced risk of implant failure tooth preservation is preferred, if possible, and extraction and further implant surgery should be avoided if possible .
5.) Were Pre-Operative Radiological Studies Obtained?
Why is this important? Diagnostic imaging is imperative to the success of dental implant surgery and restoration.
I will continue to discuss the questions in my next blog post titled, “Important Questions to Ask to Determine if there was a Deviation in the Standard of Dental Care in Georgia when Treating a Patient Requesting Dental Implants ~ part two.”
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are experts at both Dental and Medical Malpractice so if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by the negligence of another, then please Contact Us for your free legal consultation.
Strict time limitations apply in these cases so it is very important that you contact us as soon as possible following an injury or death so that we can evaluate your case and are able to move forward without any important time limitations being a block to you receiving all of the just compensation that you deserve. We look forward to hearing from you soon.