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Dentist Negligence Claims

You are entitled to make dentist negligence claims when you have sustained a loss, injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the lack of care provided by a dentist. Claims for dentist negligence can arise from more than just having a tooth unnecessarily extracted. Dentists have a duty of care to identify and treat oral diseases and infections, administer the correct dosages of medication during dental surgery and ensure that they do not misplace surgical instruments in your mouth. Dentist negligence claims have to demonstrate that the dentist displayed a poor professional performance which cause an injury loss or deterioration which could have been avoided had another course of action been taken. As the resolution of dentist negligent claims will be declined by the Injuries Board, you are advised to discuss a claim for dentist negligence with an experienced personal injury solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.

Varadkar Disputes IDA Dental Healthcare Claims

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has disputed dental healthcare claims made by the IDA that thousands of avoidable tooth extractions are conducted each year. The dental healthcare claims were made at a seminar for Health Service dentists recently held in Carlow, where the president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) – Anne Twomey – suggested that cuts in dental funding were responsible for 95 percent of more than ten thousand tooth extractions conducted on children under anaesthetic each year. In her speech to the delegates, Ms Twomey explained that children under the age of fifteen were needlessly undergoing multiple extractions under anaesthetic in hospitals each year due to a reduction in the schools screening service and a lack of education. Some children, she claimed, were not receiving any form of dental treatment until the age of twelve. The reduction in the schools screening service, Ms Twomey claimed, had led to many children suffering chronic oral infections – particularly in areas of Galway, Offaly, Kerry and some parts of Cork. Ms Twomey also presented anecdotal evidence that children were being admitted to hospital for antibiotic treatment to treat the infections while they waited for appropriate dental care. The IDA says that it warning were given to the government five years ago about the impact of cuts to dental services in Ireland, and the Association claims that the cost of the unnecessary extractions would ultimately be much more than had been saved. The figure of ten thousand avoidable extractions was called a “national disgrace” However Health Minister Leo Varadkar has disputed the accuracy of the dental healthcare claims. Speaking to reporters, Mr Varadkar said: “The number of publicly-employed dentists has gone down from about 312 to 300 in the last couple of years, so there hasn´t been a significant reduction in the number of publicly-employed dentists”. Mr Varadkar also denied that avoidable hospital extractions for children were running at five times the rate of the UK. He commented that the figures he had seen suggested that the figure of 3,600 dental extractions on children under the age of fifteen under anaesthetic were more accurate, and added “I think we need to know all the facts before jumping to conclusions”.

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Barrister Comments on Informed Consent in Medical Negligence Cases

Irish Barrister Doireann O’Mahony last week wrote an opinion piece for the Irish Times, in which she commented on informed consent in medical negligence cases. Doireann O´Mahony qualified as a Junior Counsel in 2012 and specialises in Medical Law. Her book “Medical Negligence and Childbirth” is due to be published later this year, and – due to her expertise in the area – Ms O´Mahony was the perfect legal professional to comment on a recent UK case in which a new benchmark was set on what constituted informed consent in medical negligence cases. The case in question was Montgomery vs Lanarkshire Health Board – a case that had been appealed to the Supreme Court in the UK, after the mother of a child who suffered avoidable birth injuries at Bellshill Maternity Hospital in 1999 had been denied compensation by both the Outer and Inner Houses of the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The mother – Nadine Montgomery – is petite in stature and suffers from Type 1 diabetes. Women who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are more likely to have larger babies and – prior to the birth of her son – Nadine had expressed concerns about being able to deliver her child safely. When her son – Sam – was born, his shoulder got trapped in the birth canal and he suffered shoulder dystocia as medical staff tried to free him. Due to the umbilical cord also being trapped, Sam was deprived of oxygen during his delivery and – in addition to sustaining a permanent brachial plexus injury during his birth – also suffers from cerebral palsy. Nadine Montgomery subsequently sued the Lanarkshire Health Board (now NHS Lanarkshire) on the grounds that she would have chosen a birth by Caesarean Section had the risk of shoulder dystocia in a natural birth been explained to her. During the Supreme Court hearing, Nadine´s consultant gynaecologist – Dr Dina McLellan – admitted that Nadine had repeatedly expressed concerns about giving birth naturally, but said that she had chosen not to explain the risk of shoulder dystocia because if she explained to diabetic women, they would all want it. Dr McLellan told the court that, in her view, it was “not in the maternal interests for women to have Caesarean Sections”. The seven Supreme Court judges unanimously disagreed with the consultant gynaecologist and said in their judgement that social and legal developments “point away from the relationship between the doctor and patient based on medical paternalism”. The judges ruled that a doctor has a duty of reasonable care to ensure that patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment and that “it was incumbent on Dr McLellan to advise Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia if she were to have her baby by vaginal delivery, and to discuss with her the alternative of delivery by caesarean section.” The Supreme Court awarded Nadine £5.25 million compensation for the birth injuries that her son had sustained during his delivery, and said it would be a mistake to view patients in the modern world as “uninformed, incapable of understanding medical matters or wholly dependent upon a flow of information from doctors” – effectively moving the goalposts in respect of informed consent from the “doctor-knows-best professional standard test” to a “reasonable patient test”. Implications for Informed Consent in Medical Negligence Cases in Ireland Doireann O´Mahony welcomed the judgement of the UK Supreme Court and the implications for informed consent in medical negligence cases in Ireland. Ms O´Mahony commented that a patient-centred approach to the issue of informed consent has been adopted in virtually every major common law jurisdiction – including the United States, Canada and Australia. A patient-centred approach to informed consent in medical negligence cases has twice been the preferable test to resolve medical negligence claims in Ireland – in Geoghegan vs Harris (2000) and in Fitzpatrick vs White (2007). Interestingly, in both cases the presiding judge was Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, who took the opinion that medical professional had a duty of care to impart certain information regarding risks, where those risks were likely to be relevant in the eyes of a reasonable patient. Although the two cases mentioned above were in respect of dental medical negligence and eye surgery medical negligence, Ms O´Mahony compared the two cases to the rights of a pregnant woman prior to and during childbirth. She wrote: A pregnant woman must be given sufficient understanding to enable her to make a choice in circumstances where she is free to exercise choice. That is what consent is all about and pregnancy is a particularly powerful demonstration of it. Once pregnant, there are only two possibilities, vaginal birth or Caesarean section. There is no third alternative. While most doctors are meticulous in obtaining “consent” for operative intervention, they seem to have little appreciation of the need, equally great, for proper consent to the non-surgical alternative. Ms O´Mahony concluded her article on informed consent in medical negligence cases by saying that a professional standard test has no place in the 21st century when it comes to childbirth. She welcomed the move away from a paternalistic philosophy in Ireland, and set a question for those who opposed to the reasonable patient test – “what risks of elective Caesarean section could outweigh the known risk, in any particular case of vaginal delivery?”

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Dental Complaints Resolution Service Resolves Woman´s Claim for Negligent Dentistry

The Dental Complaints Resolution Service has successfully resolved a woman´s claim for negligent dentistry and secured her €40,000 compensation. The woman – only identified as living in the east of the country – was featured in the Dental Complaints Resolution Service Annual Report as one of 130 grievances the service received from dental patients in Ireland. According to the report, the woman had attended her dentist twice a year since 1993 and believed that her teeth were in good health. However, when she visited a cosmetic dentist last year, the woman was told that her gums were not in a good state and she would need remedial work before implants could be fitted. The woman had to undergo specialist treatment from a periodontist to reverse the damage to her gums – which was both expensive and painful – and she subsequently wrote a letter of complaint to her regular dentist which went unanswered. The patient then contacted the Dental Complaints Resolution Service, who mediated on her behalf to secure a compensation settlement of €40,000 to resolve her claim for negligent dentistry. However, the compensation settlement only covered a refund of the money she had paid for dental treatment over the past ten years, the cost treatment to her gums and the dental implants, and an amount to pay for check-ups over the next ten years. Although the complaint to the Dental Complaints Resolution Service and claim for negligent dentistry was resolved satisfactorily, the settlement failed to take into account the pain and suffering the woman had experienced during the remedial treatment, and the emotional trauma that accompanied ongoing and extensive treatment. If you believe that you have been the victim of negligent dentistry, it is always in your best interests to discuss the nature of your injury with a medical negligence solicitor before accepting any other resolution to your potential claim for injury compensation.

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We Have Updated Our Medical Negligence Claims Information Page

We have updated our medical negligence claims information page so that it is more comprehensive than ever before and offers advice on the procedures that need to be completed prior to claiming compensation for medical negligence in Ireland. As ever, the information we provide about medical negligence claims is no substitute for speaking directly with an experienced solicitor and, if you believe that you – or somebody close to you – has suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition, which could have been prevented if you had received an acceptable standard of care, you are advised to discuss your individual situation with a solicitor without delay. You can visit our revised page containing medical negligence claims information by clicking on the link below: >> Medical Negligence Claims <<

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€255k High Court Payment for Negligence by Dentist

A woman, who claimed her dental treatment had been negligent and resulted in years of pain and suffering, has won her claim and been awarded 255,000 Euros in a high court payment for negligence by a dentist. Esther Hammond (61) of Rathcoole, County Dublin, made her dental negligence claim against registered dental surgeon Brendan Bastible of Greenhills, Dublin, from whom she had first been treated in May 1991 for a loose crown that had been fitted by another dentist. Mr Bastible had treated the woman for the loose crown, filled several cavities in other teeth and treated her for the gum disease periodontitis. However, it was when Mr Bastible applied braces to her upper jaw in November 1991, and lower jaw in 1993, that Esther’s issues began. Mr Justice John Quirke at the High Court heard that the wires which held the braces together regularly snapped, causing lacerations within Esther’s mouth which resulted in significant pain and affected her day to day life. Esther also said that her dental problems also affected her relationship with her family and led to psychological problems, which still persist today. Expert witnesses testified in court that the fitting of the braces was inappropriate at the time and Esther’s legal representatives advised the judge that Mr Bastible was not qualified to perform orthodontic treatment of this nature. It was also confirmed by a medical expert that it would take five more years of dental treatment until the physical damage done by Mr Bastible would be a thing of the past. In making his judgement, Mr Justice John Quirke stated that he was satisfied that the treatment Esther was given was indeed negligent and that it fell below the standards required of a practicing dental surgeon. He awarded Esther 170,000 Euros in general damages, 50,000 Euros to take into account future pain and suffering while undergoing remedial treatment and 35,000 Euros to compensate for past and future special damages – a total of 255,000 Euros.

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