Case Study

Failure to consider available information before treatment

Dr B was a second year post graduate dentist working as a locum. The patient was seen previously in the practice and had consented to an extraction. The treatment was delayed for a few days as it was decided it should be performed by a more senior dentist.

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Dr B examined the patient and decided to commence the predetermined procedure. The member began to encounter difficulty and the patient experienced increased pain. Additional anaesthetic was provided. Eventually the procedure was abandoned as the member thought there may be an abscess. Antibiotics were provided and a further appointment rescheduled to complete the treatment.

The patient subsequently lodged a complaint with the Dental Board of Australia about the member’s conduct and sought compensation for:

  • excruciating pain experienced during and after the procedure (the tooth had been cracked)
  • the additional costs incurred in ultimately having the tooth extracted at another dental surgery; and
  • increased absence from work. 

The complaint escalated to an investigation of the member’s competence including:

  • failure to make contemporaneous notes of the appointment and treatment
  • failure to consider appropriately the available clinical information before commencing treatment.

Dr B admitted to not making contemporaneous records which were later added. His conduct consequently exposed him to a negligence claim as well as a professional conduct complaint at the Dental Board.

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