A tragic story from Oklahoma highlights the dangers that medical professionals who do not follow medical standards pose to everyone. A dentist from the Tulsa area has recently been found to be responsible for the U.S.’s first known outbreak of hepatitis C among dental patients. The outbreak could have been easily prevented if the dentist had used a proper standard of care in his practice.

The dentist, who practiced for 36 years, had his dental practice shut down in March and he voluntarily surrendered his dental license after a surprise inspection revealed serious problems at his clinic. The dentist allegedly reused needles. He kept a separate set of tools for patients that were known to carry an infectious disease, but they were rusty, which means they couldn’t be properly sterilized. He also poured bleach on patients’ wounds.

Over 7,000 patients from his clinics were notified they should be tested for hepatitis and HIV. Over 4,000 were tested. Among those people, 89 were positive for hepatitis C, and five were positive for hepatitis B. Four tested positive for HIV. It’s not clear how many of the patients contracted hepatitis or HIV from the dental office. The CDC is investigating how the HIV transmission occurred.

Fortunately, the vast majority of dentists are knowledgeable professionals who follow accepted dental practices and who use high standards of care. However, as this story illustrates, if a dentist commits professional malpractice, the results can be devastating. If a dentist fails to follow an appropriate standard of care, the patient could end up with disfigurement, a contagious disease, or other medical issues.

Some of the errors dentists commit include:

–           Pulling the wrong teeth;

–           Improperly administering anesthesia or antibiotics;

–           Failing to inform a patient of risks or alternate treatments;

–           Improperly performing procedures;

–           Failing to detect serious problems such as tumors or diseases;

–           Damaging nerves.

Although most of these errors can be corrected with further dental treatments or medicine, others can cause contagious diseases, infections, heart attacks, brain injuries, uncontrollable bleeding, and permanent nerve damage.

If a dentist fails to use an accepted professional level of care, and the patient is harmed as a result, the dentist may be held liable for dental malpractice. A patient who has been harmed as a result of dental practice may be entitled to a variety of damages, including compensation for past and future medical or dental expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and lost wages.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that dentists should perform with a high level of professionalism that reflects the trust that patients place in dentists. If a dentist fails to use a high level of care, and you are harmed as a result, you should take steps to hold the dentist liable.

If you’re in the San Francisco area, and you have been harmed by a dentist’s malpractice, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She represents clients in the San Francisco – Oakland area. Call her today to learn more.

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