Case Studies: Healthcare

Dental Negligence Claim Settles for £155,000 and Costs

O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors recently obtained a settlement of £155,000.00 on behalf of our client who suffered significant injuries due to alleged negligent treatment provided by his former dentist. Claire Hunt dealt with the matter.

Our client was a patient of his former General Dental Practitioner (“the Defendant”) between 1999 and 2017 during which time he attended check-up appointments on a regular basis. During this time, the Defendant provided routine treatment and root canal treatment and our client was not advised of any issues affecting his gums or periodontal health at any stage.

In mid-2017, our client attended a new dentist following the retirement of the Defendant. His new dentist undertook a thorough assessment and identified significant shortcomings with the treatment provided by the Defendant including, most significantly, a missed diagnosis of aggressive periodontal disease which had developed during the period of time when our client was being treated by the Defendant. It was also noted that our client had suffered approximately 40% bone loss as a result of the repeated failures to diagnose and treat his periodontal disease and that the root canal treatment provided had also failed. Our client was also informed that it was likely that he would lose a number of teeth and that he would require extensive remedial treatment including implant treatment at very significant expense.

Our client therefore instructed us to investigate the standard of treatment provided by his former dentist. As such, we obtained copies of our client’s clinical records and instructed an independent General Dental Practice expert and an independent Periodontist based outside Northern Ireland. It was our experts’ opinion that the treatment which the Defendant had provided fell below the standards to be expected of a reasonably competent General Dental Practitioner. For example, it was noted that there had been repeated failures to diagnose our client’s periodontal disease before July 2012 and to adequately monitor and treat the same. In addition, it was also identified that there were repeated failures to take appropriate radiographs following the diagnosis of periodontal disease such that the progressive destructive disease which was weakening the support of our client’s teeth went undetected. It was further noted that our client had suffered significant pocketing in his gums affecting his teeth in addition to significant mobility of a number of his teeth. He had also developed receding gums and was conscious of the spaces which this had produced between his teeth with an adverse effect on the cosmetic appearance of his teeth and in particular his smile. He also experienced a bad taste and bleeding in his mouth and was constantly aware of his teeth and his persistent fear of losing teeth.  He suffered a loss of confidence both in relation to the appearance of his teeth and also in relation to eating due to concern that his teeth would be damaged by any chewy or hard foodstuff and foodstuffs becoming caught in the caries and gaps in his teeth.

We also instructed an independent Consultant Psychiatrist based in Northern Ireland in order to further assess the psychological impact of our client’s injuries. Our expert concluded that our client had suffered an Adjustment Disorder characterised by preoccupation with his dental hygiene, sleep disturbance, decreased self-esteem and self-confidence and difficulty with social situations and relationships.

Whilst it was necessary to issue protective High Court proceedings, it was ultimately agreed that our client would receive £155,000.00 encompassing awards in respect of the avoidable pain, suffering and inconvenience which he had endured and the significant remedial treatment fees which he had incurred and would incur in the future. The settlement, which included payment of our client’s full costs,  was made without admission of liability.

Commenting on the settlement of his action, our client says, “I couldn’t recommend O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors highly enough.  Especially Claire Hunt who handled the case with compassion and sensitivity and was always there to listen and advise. She was instrumental in gaining the best possible outcome for my case and she pushed for a settlement that was higher than I could have hoped for. Thank you Claire for your patience and determination“.

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