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February 20, 2024
Amanda Castle

Top Malpractice Risks for Dentists

In the realm of healthcare, dentistry stands as a crucial field dedicated to maintaining oral health and enhancing smiles. However, like any medical profession, dentistry comes with its own set of risks and challenges, particularly in the realm of malpractice. Dentists, as trusted professionals, must be vigilant in navigating these risks to ensure optimal patient care and safeguard their practice’s reputation.

What Are the Top Dental Malpractice Risks? red and white massage chair

The most dire risks and potential incidents that dental professionals may encounter can vary depending on the unique circumstances of their practice. However, for many dentists, the following mishaps could commonly lead to costly lawsuits:

  • Incorrect or delayed diagnosis—Failure to accurately or promptly diagnose oral health issues can lead to serious consequences for patients. Whether overlooking signs of diseases or misinterpreting symptoms, misdiagnoses can result in prolonged suffering for patients and potential legal ramifications for dentists.
  • Treatment errors—Mistakes during dental procedures can have severe and prolonged consequences for patients’ oral health. From nerve damage to improper placement of dental implants, treatment errors can result in pain, infection, and the need for corrective procedures, leading to malpractice claims.
  • Informed consent issues—Dentists must ensure patients fully understand the risks, benefits and alternatives of proposed treatments before proceeding. Failure to obtain informed consent can result in allegations of negligence, especially if patients experience adverse outcomes they were not adequately warned about.
  • Documentation deficiencies—Accurate and detailed record-keeping is essential in dentistry. Incomplete or inconsistent patient records can hinder communication among dental professionals and compromise continuity of care. Dentists should meticulously document patient histories, treatment plans and informed consent discussions.
  • Scope of practice violations—Dentists must operate within their scope of practice and refer patients to specialists when necessary. Performing procedures beyond one’s expertise or failing to recognize when specialist intervention is required can result in substandard care and legal repercussions.

How Can Dentists Protect Themselves From Malpractice Risks?

To offset the inherent risks of malpractice lawsuits arising from professional errors, dentists should ensure they have secured appropriate dental malpractice coverage. Also known as dentist professional liability insurance, these policies can provide critical financial assistance in response to these lawsuits by helping to pay for various legal expenses and losses, such as attorney fees, court costs, settlements and judgments.

We’re Here to Help

Unfortunately, even the most experienced and responsible dentists may eventually make a mistake. A slight slip of the hand or momentary lapse in attention could have far-reaching ramifications for patients’ health, and resulting lawsuits could have extensive financial consequences. With this in mind, understanding, acquiring and maintaining appropriate dental malpractice insurance should be a top priority.

Contact the agents at Mikel's Insurance Services today to learn more about available options and secure appropriate coverage.


This blog is intended for informational and educational use only. It is not exhaustive and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact your insurance professional for further information. 

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