Does the word “orthodontist” make you think of an adolescent face full of braces? What about medical malpractice? It’s true: creating “metal mouths” is one of the main jobs of an orthodontist. But orthodontists do a lot more than fix crooked teeth. They also deal with a lot of serious issues, like jaw correction and mouth cancer. And like any medical professional, orthodontists can make negligent decisions that lead to orthodontic malpractice.
Do you believe that you or a loved one have been injured by an orthodontist’s mistake? Contact our orthodontist malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation.
What Is Orthodontic Malpractice?
Orthodontic malpractice is when an orthodontist breaches the standard of care and harms a patient. The “standard of care” refers to what any trained orthodontist would do in a certain situation.
If your case meets the legal standard for malpractice, you may deserve compensation. Compensation can help cover medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.
Do you believe your orthodontist harmed you and should be held accountable? Speak with an attorney with experience in orthodontist malpractice. But remember, it’s important to do it as soon as possible because of something know as the statute of limitations. Most states in the US put a cap on suing for medical malpractice after two years have passed, but this can vary from state to state.
When Do Orthodontists Commit Malpractice?
Orthodontists commit malpractice most often during realignment and straightening procedures. Here’s a few of those situations orthodontists find themselves in, which can and do lead to malpractice:
- Negligence during surgery to straighten the patient’s teeth
- Using braces incorrectly (overcorrecting or undercorrecting)
- Using Invisalign incorrectly
- Negligently giving unnecessary procedures
- Installing headgear incorrectly
- Negligence during treatment that causes infection
There are many types of orthodontic malpractice, which we’ll cover soon. But first, here’s a story about an orthodontist who made a kid wear braces for way, way too long.
Braces for 11 Years: A Disturbing Case of Orthodontic Malpractice
Have you ever had braces? You probably had to wear them for maybe 1-3 years. Sure, they’re annoying and sometimes painful but the day you get them removed and you see your brand new smile, you feel they’re worth the trouble!
Now imagine having to wear braces for 11 years. Unbearable, right? That’s what happened to Devin Bost of Oregon. His orthodontist made him wear braces from age seven to eighteen. As if going through puberty isn’t hard enough, this poor kid had to have a “brace face” all through his schooling years.
Worst of all, the braces damaged his mouth and gums. They even harmed the teeth they were supposed to fix. Devin had to have corrective surgery. Later, he sued his doctor for orthodontic malpractice. His lawyers sought $185,100 in damages.
Situations like Devin’s can leave victims fighting tooth and nail for justice, but orthodontic malpractice can be hard to prove. In Devin’s case, the orthodontist and his insurance company denied any wrongdoing. This is why seeking help from a lawyer with experience in these types of cases is necessary.
Types of Orthodontic Malpractice
Besides leaving braces on for too long, there are many other types of malpractice surrounding orthodontic care, oral surgery, and/or dental malpractice. Here are some of the most common types:
- Recommending teeth extraction when it isn’t necessary
- Diagnosing a serious dental condition too late
- Misdiagnosing a dental disease or issue
- Delaying treatment
- Providing treatment or performing a procedure a patient doesn’t need.
- Staff doesn’t request informed consent from the patient prior to performing a procedure.
- The orthodontist prescribes the wrong medication or places anesthesia incorrectly
- Removing braces too early
- Using Invisalign incorrectly
- The orthodontist doesn’t supervise or train dental assistants
- Using wrong dental equipment or failing to sterilize it between patients
- Doctors don’t inform a patient about the risks of anesthesia or a medication, and the patient has an adverse reaction
All these types of malpractice can cause irreversible harm. For example, misdiagnosing mouth cancer or delaying treatment for it can allow it to get worse. Patients may sustain a severe injury, or even lose their lives. Read about other examples here.
Orthodontic malpractice can also lead to additional surgeries to correct the doctor’s mistakes. Hospital bills can climb higher and higher. And it will likely cause a lot of anxiety and frustration. An orthodontist’s negligence can affect a person’s quality of life. So how can a patient hold their provider accountable? Through an orthodontic malpractice lawsuit, which we’ll discuss below.
Can I Sue My Orthodontist?
You can sue your orthodontist for malpractice if…
- Your doctor’s actions meet the legal standard for orthodontic malpractice. You’ll need to prove your orthodontist deviated from the standard of care.
- What your orthodontist did caused you harm. Were you injured? Did the injury go beyond the reasonable side effects that your doctor discussed with you?
- You have evidence to prove that the above is true. You’ll need to gather hospital and clinic documents. Your orthodontic malpractice attorney can help you seek the opinion of an expert orthodontist. The expert’s opinion can help prove that your doctor acted negligently.
Orthodontist malpractice is complicated. When you’re up against an orthodontic office or your orthodontist’s insurance company, you may find yourself fighting tooth and nail to get the compensation you deserve. Filing a lawsuit is time consuming and even confusing. But you don’t have to do it alone! Call our expert medical malpractice team today for compassionate, timely representation.