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$35 million arbitration award in malpractice case against dentist


Medical malpractice claims in Oregon are often associated with doctors, nurses and hospital facilities. However, malpractice is not limited to hospital negligence. It encompasses a wide range of wrongful actions, including those of dentists. In one such case, more than two dozen patients of a former dentist have recently succeeded in their malpractice lawsuits. In arbitration, they have been awarded $35 million.

The Seattle-area dentist was accused by his former patients of performing hundreds of root canals that were unnecessary. A sworn affidavit from the dentist that bought the defendant's practice said he performed around 2,200 root canals on 500 patients in the years prior to his retirement. To put this in perspective, the average patient has two or less root canals. The Washington State Health Department reportedly has received 76 complaints about the dentist. More than 200 former patients total have filed malpractice claims against the dentist.

The arbitration award benefits a small group of former patients that refused to settle their claims. The judge appointed to the case found that the dentist was negligent and did not get informed consent from his patients. The judge also found that he committed fraud and violated the state's consumer protection act. The dentist gave up his license to practice dentistry in 2010 and has agreed never to practice in the state again.

A breakdown of the compensation awarded is not currently available. However, damage awards in malpractice claims generally cover several things. Compensation often includes medical expenses, lost wages and attorney fees. It can also include punitive damages for things such as pain and suffering. If a malpractice claim involves a fatality, compensation may be awarded for loss of future income and loss of companionship. The amount and type of compensation varies among each case. A medical malpractice attorney can counsel victims of the amount of compensation that can be anticipated in their case.

Source: Longview Daily News, "$35 million award to 29 patients for root canals," July 18, 2013

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