Dentist Malpractice vs. Medical Malpractice

Malpractice is the failure to comply with the accepted standards of care in a profession, typically resulting in harm to a client, customer or patient. The most common use of the term malpractice is in the health care industry. Medical malpractice refers to a health care practitioner’s professional negligence or misconduct that causes injury or illness to a patient. A lesser-known related term is dentist malpractice. An injured patient could be eligible for recovery for both types of malpractice in Nevada.

Common Examples of Dentist Malpractice

Dentist, or dental, malpractice can refer to many different mistakes a dentistry professional could make during a patient’s treatment. Anything from giving too much anesthesia to operating on the wrong patient could constitute dentist malpractice if a reasonable practitioner or assistant would not have committed the same act in similar circumstances. Some forms of dental malpractice, however, happen more often than others.

  • Failure to obtain informed consent
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose oral cancers
  • Negligent patient care
  • Improper conductance of oral procedures
  • Anesthesia mistakes or complications
  • Nerve damage during procedures
  • Causing a patient’s wrongful death

If a patient believes a different dentist, oral surgeon or orthodontist would have provided better treatment and avoided the injury or illness, the patient could have grounds for a dentist malpractice lawsuit in Nevada. Dental negligence is a serious mistake that could cause fatal injuries to the patient. Dentist malpractice could make the patient eligible for financial compensation from the at-fault practitioner or dental facility.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is similar to dentist malpractice, except it exists within a broader health care context. Rather than focusing on mistakes during oral procedures, medical malpractice can occur during a range of other health care procedures and general patient care. Medical malpractice can refer to any breach of a doctor, nurse or hospital’s duties of care to a patient, causing injuries or wrongful death.

  • Birth injuries
  • Medication mistakes
  • Patient misdiagnosis
  • Patient neglect
  • Infections
  • Surgical mistakes

Both medical and dentist malpractice have the same statute of limitations, or deadline, in Nevada. Injured patients have no more than three years from the date of injury to file both types of malpractice claims. If patients do not discover their injuries until later, they have one year from the date they discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injuries to file.

Proving Dentist or Medical Malpractice

Filing a dental or medical malpractice claim is the first step toward obtaining compensation for damages in Nevada. Next, the plaintiff should hire a medical malpractice attorney to help him or her prove the case against the dentist, doctor or medical/dental office. In Nevada, a malpractice claimant needs an affidavit of merit to have a valid claim. The affidavit is a document stating that a lawyer or relevant health care provider supports the claimant’s malpractice allegation.

Upon filing the claim and affidavit, the defendant may offer a settlement to resolve the claim before it has to go to trial. The plaintiff’s attorney may be able to negotiate a fair settlement amount from the defendant’s insurance company. If not, the malpractice claim may go to court. A dentist or medical malpractice trial will involve a discovery phase, witness interrogations and one or more hearings. A judge or jury will listen to both sides of the case and try to determine whether malpractice occurred.

Both types of malpractice cases involve the same key elements of proof: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. It is up to the plaintiff or his or her lawyer to establish these four elements through a preponderance of evidence. Evidence may include testimony from dental or medical professionals, as well as the plaintiff’s medical records. Establishing the four elements of a malpractice claim could result in compensation for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, missed days at work and related medical treatments.

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