Our patient, we’ll call him “John Doe” for confidentiality purposes, came to us in 2022. He explained that he was feeling numbness in his tongue after going to get a root canal. He said he couldn’t speak the same and that he was stumbling over his words, and he mentioned that his taste was off on different parts of his tongue.
At this point, we knew that the patient had likely suffered lingual nerve damage. Over the course of a few more conversations, we learned more about his case. John had undergone a root canal procedure at an endodontic practice. When the endodontist was getting the patient prepared for the procedure, the endodontist was aggressively numbing the patient, stabbing him with the anesthetic.
All of a sudden, BAM. The patient felt a lightning bolt sensation run through his mouth and tongue when the endodontist was injecting anesthetic. He paused for a little bit of time and then allowed the endodontist to continue. BAM! It happened again. This time, the shock feeling was even more severe, and the patient immediately noticed numbness in his tongue.
When John woke up the next morning after the procedure, his tongue was still numb. That’s when he got nervous. He called the office where he was injured, and they said they would reach back out to him. Every week or so, a staff member at the dental office would call John, and he would tell them that his tongue was still numb. This went on for weeks. Eventually, the calls stopped, and the office stopped reaching out to John to check on him.
At no point did a doctor evaluate John’s numbness or diagnose his nerve damage. Obviously, nobody attempted to refer him to a specialist to monitor or repair his nerve damage.
What’s the problem here? How did the doctor mess up?
Nobody addressed or treated John’s nerve damage. Nerve damage is often treatable if it’s evaluated and treated quickly. When left untreated, nerve damage is much more likely to become permanent. Ideally, nerve damage will be treated within 3 months, but it can be treated between 3 and 6 months. If nerve damage persists for 6 months, it may very well be permanent. Thus, time is of the essence.
In Florida, a dentist or endodontist breaches of the standard of care if they fail to diagnose and facilitate treatment for a post-operative nerve injury. The doctor is supposed to properly evaluate the type of injury and the extent of injury. Here is some language from the Florida Board of Dentistry on this topic:
Management of post-operative complication(s) such as a nerve injury includes providing the patient with a timely referral to a specialist or otherwise providing appropriate treatment for the complication.
To put this simply, if a dentist or endodontist causes you nerve damage and you tell the dentist that you’re experiencing numbness in your tongue (or anywhere else), the dentist is supposed to promptly get you in the office and evaluate your nerve damage. Then, the dentist is supposed to facilitate treatment, which is often by simply referring you to a specialist.
What happens if the doctor doesn’t timely evaluate a patient’s nerve damage? The damage is likely to become permanent. Then, the patient must live with a numb tongue forever. That’s why these medical protocols exist, to prevent causing unnecessary damage to the patient.
We Got Our Client Justice Without Our Client Having to Deal with the Hassle and Expense of Medical Malpractice Litigation
The best result for the client is to settle a case for a good value before having to file a lawsuit and pay an expert witness thousands of dollars, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, to litigate the case. Medical malpractice and dental malpractice cases can be the most expensive cases to litigate, and those litigation costs can eat up the recovery. Thus, if the parties are willing to be reasonable with each other, they need to strike a deal and settle the case.
In this case, it took roughly a year for us to fight our way to a just settlement for our client. However, we were able to reach a result that was good for everyone, and that’s the best kind of deal. Our client got justice and was able to move on with his life. The sad part here is that we won’t get to talk with each other as much. We made a friend in this case, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to help.
Do You Need an Experienced Florida Dental Malpractice Lawyer?
If you or a loved one is experiencing serious complications or nerve damage after a dental procedure, you should speak with an experienced Florida dental malpractice lawyer because you may be entitled to compensation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on our website to set up your free consultation by email, or you can call our Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm today at (321) 352-7588 today to schedule your free consultation by phone. When you schedule a consultation at our law firm, you will get a consultation with a personal injury lawyer, not a customer service representative or intake person.
If you need a South Carolina dental malpractice lawyer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.