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Dental implants have revolutionized dentistry. They have restored form and function to millions of patients.
Implants are also providing another a source of revenue to attorneys.
Lawsuits involving dental implants have grown dramatically over the past 10 years. Why? Because implant treatment is costly and accompanied by high patient expectations; implant failures frequently result in infections, paresthesia and the need for extensive remedial treatment. All these problems increase the value of implant cases and attract plaintiffs and their attorneys.
What should dentists and dental specialists do to reduce liability exposure?
First and foremost, training in implants, particularly in dealing with post-operative complications, is paramount. Weekend seminars may be inadequate to become competent in placing or restoring implants. But you should seek out reputable courses that deal with all aspects of implant treatment.
Secondly, one needs to determine if the patient is a candidate for implants. Besides evaluating the patient clinically, the dentist and dental specialist need to consider the patient’s personal habits and expectations. A smoker or a patient with unreasonable expectations may not be suitable for implants.
Thirdly, teamwork between the implant surgeon and the restorative dentist is crucial. The litmus test is how the team deals with implant problems. Is there finger pointing and comments such as “It’s the periodontist’s fault because the implant was put in a non-restorable position” or “The general dentist overloaded the implants"? The well-being of the patient should be the first concern.
Other issues such as informed consent, fees for treatment, including if there is a fee for replacing a failed implant, the need for maintenance visits, and good recordkeeping are vital to good patient care and risk management.
Beware that patients may seek out an attorney if there are complications. Therefore, being prepared will promote successful dental implant treatment and reduce legal liability.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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