Hospital mix-up leads to dental negligence claims disaster

A young mother who went into hospital to have the wrong tooth extracted thanks her solicitor. Her No Win No Fee claim for dental negligence was strengthened by a solicitor who resolved her case against Whipps Cross University Hospital.

Katie Cross experienced painful and swollen gums, which should have been remedied by simple tooth extraction. But due to a terrible mix-up which she was not told of, dentists took out the wrong tooth. Sadly, the mistake leaves Katie to face life with permanent damage. 

Today, she has no control over her lower lip and numbness in her chin. Also, Katie now drools and dribbles without realising, particularly when she eats. After a year, humiliating side effects from the surgery coupled with no signs of improvement or apology from the hospital. Katie sought professional help from a specialist solicitor.

Investigating dental negligence claims

The solicitor’s team looked at Katie’s history. Subsequently, they found that removing the tooth was the worst thing which could have been done. As a result, it would likely result in nerve damage from which there was no chance of recovery. 

It was devastating for Katie to discover that there was no chance of recovery. Compounding the matter, she says the expert dentists at the hospital were oblivious to the risk of nerve damage being so high.

Despite paying Katie a £15,000 amount in compensation as part of an out of court settlement, the NHS trust which runs Whipps Cross Hospital did not admit liability. Katie describes her injuries as “soul-destroying.”

With no solution available, she has “no choice but to live with it” for the rest of her days. Potential for gum disease

Katie’s dental negligence solicitors said that the permanent damage she must now endure would have been avoidable. Dentists had only to give his client a little bit more attention as well as the correct treatment to solve all her dental difficulties.

Dental negligence claims are often the result of complete ignorance of a patient's needs.

Types of dental negligence

Katie’s case is certainly troubling, but – unfortunately – not unique. The fact remains that patients seek dental negligence compensation regularly. In short, there are many ways in which negligent treatment at a dental practitioner leads to a patient who suffered an injury. Duty of care issues and claims for medical negligence solicitors extends from medical professionals to dental practitioners as well.

The effects of dental negligence cases and the range of personal injury types can be long-term. In essence, some types of dental negligence can include the following.

  • Extracting the wrong tooth is a particularly glaring example.
  • Poor quality products and incorrect techniques used in a tooth whitening process.
  • Not extracting a decayed tooth which leads to further decay.
  • Incorrectly conducting anaesthesia.
  • Causing nerve damage during a surgical process.
  • Inserting crowns and/or fillings poorly.
  • Not diagnosing and treating gum disease.
  • Failure to diagnose and refer suspected cases of oral cancer.
  • Errors in interpreting dental x-rays and test results.
  • Negligent orthodontic treatment situations.
  • Dental implant negligence.
  • Negligent root canal treatment.
  • Negligent wisdom teeth extraction.
  • Undiagnosed periodontal disease.

What to do with dental negligence claims

Here’s why calling us is the right move for your dental treatment negligence injury claim.

First, we’re registered in England, with firms authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. But act now: there are time limits with any compensation claims regarding medical or dental negligence disasters like Katie Cross’ claim.

ADDENDUM: Some common dental negligence claims FAQs

As we share on our official dental negligence claims page, there are many common questions people like Katie Cross have about the claims process. Below, from that page, we share some of those, plus our expert opinions.

Can I make a dental claim?

Two key criteria need to be met to have legal grounds to ask for compensation.

  • First: that you have been hurt or are coping with a personal injury.
  • Second: that your injury was avoidable, yet the cause was by human error or procedural shortcomings.

Your dental practitioner might take all reasonable steps to avoid the injury. Or you might receive negligent treatment that doesn’t cause harm you. In these cases, it’s unlikely you can claim compensation.

What evidence do I need for a dental claim?

As the claimant, it is your role to show your dentist’s breach of duty of care. Ergo, you suffered a personal injury as a result. They agreed to undertake a duty of care when they accepted you as a patient. Your dental records can also help support your dental negligence claim.

An independent dental expert can then provide a report showing the extent of your injury and likely prognosis. Other evidence which can be used to support your claim includes the following.

  • Photographs of your injury.
  • A personal diary of how you feel and how your injury affects you on a day to day basis.
  • Records of phone calls and correspondence between you and your dentist.
  • Plus, taking down any relevant witness statements.

As your dental negligence solicitor, we work diligently to obtain this information and create a robust application for payment for you. The better you prepare your initial application, the smaller the likelihood that the other party will contest it. As a result, the more favourable the outcome of your claim will be.

Can I claim for dental negligence if I had treatment on the NHS?

It is possible to claim compensation if you have suffered due to negligent treatment from either an NHS dentist or private practice. The difference in claiming from the NHS is that they have a particular organisation that handles all their compensation claims.

Moreover, they have a well-defined complaints process. You can raise a complaint and a compensation claim separately. Depending on the findings of the complaint investigation, you may have more evidence to support your claim.

What does dental compensation pay for?

Dental compensation covers general damages together with special damages. General damages account for physical pain and suffering. Panels heavily consider the nature and prognosis of your injury; industry-standard guidelines help them reach a fair figure.

Special damages address the financial cost of your damage. Have you lost income because you have had to take longer than expected off work for corrective treatment and recovery? Have you spent any money on prescription costs or independent dental assessment or treatment, and did you incur an expense?

How much will I receive for my dental negligence claim?

The amount of compensation you receive for your dental claim depends heavily on:

  • First, the types of injury you sustain.
  • Next, your prognosis for a full recovery from the injury.
  • Finally, any other costs you incur as a result of the injury.

It’s not possible to advise a specific amount at the start of your claim. However, your lawyer can give you a better approximation as the details of the case become clearer.

For example, the loss of a front tooth is typically between £1,800 and £3,300. Acute and ongoing conditions such as chronic tooth pain from an abscess.

By contrast, even a visible nerve could result in more than £10,000 being paid. These guidelines are the industry standard of care. As such, they’re subject to regular review by Judicial College to ensure they are relevant.