Dental Malpractice vs. Medical Malpractice

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Malpractice refers to the negligence of a professional in fulfilling his or her duties of care to clients, resulting in harm to the latter. Any type of malpractice that causes personal injuries to the victim could be grounds for filing a civil lawsuit in Florida.

Medical malpractice and dental malpractice are both serious acts of negligence that could cause lifelong injuries and death. Although both types of cases fall under the legal umbrella of medical malpractice, understanding the differences between dental and medical malpractice could help you discover whether you have a case as an injured patient in Florida.

What Is Dental Malpractice?

Dental malpractice specifically refers to the negligence of a dentist, oral surgeon or another dental professional. Dental malpractice can occur when a dentist or surgeon falls short of the accepted standards of care in the industry, resulting in injuries or death to the patient. Dental malpractice can take many shapes and forms.

  • Performing unnecessary procedures
  • Making anesthesia errors
  • Causing preventable nerve damage during a procedure
  • Failing to properly sanitize equipment, leading to infections
  • Improperly positioning bridges or crowns
  • Poorly installing braces
  • Failing to diagnose oral cancers

In Florida, the courts do not differentiate between dental and medical malpractice in terms of types of lawsuits. If you were the victim of dental malpractice, you will file a medical malpractice claim against the dentist or medical office. You will have two years from the date of the dental malpractice to bring your claim – the same as a medical malpractice case.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice in Florida is the failure of a physician or other health care practitioner to fulfill duties of care to a patient, causing personal injuries or wrongful death. Medical malpractice can have a serious impact on the patient or his or her family members. Malpractice can lead to painful injuries, expensive reparative procedures, and significant pain and suffering. It can also lead to a lawsuit, medical malpractice lawyers investigate these situations in order to get compensations for clients.

  • Making mistakes before, during or after surgery
  • Administering too much or too little anesthesia during an operation
  • Misdiagnosing or failing to diagnose a patient
  • Failing to properly care for a patient
  • Prescribing the incorrect medication or dosage
  • Negligently causing a birth injury

As with dental malpractice, medical malpractice gives a victim the right to file a civil claim against the at-fault physician and/or hospital. A successful medical malpractice claim could result in payment for lost income, pain and suffering, medical expenses and many other damages. The defendant could also owe additional punitive damages for gross negligence or wrongful acts.

Which Type of Claim Is Right for You?

As the victim of dental malpractice or medical malpractice in Florida, you have rights. The state’s civil justice system gives you the right to pursue damages from the at-fault party or parties. Compensation could reimburse you for both economic and noneconomic injuries. You or your attorney will need to prove four main elements for most malpractice claims.

  1. A practitioner-patient relationship existed. You must have been a patient of the at-fault doctor or dentist, meaning the practitioner owed you professional duties of care.
  2. The practitioner breached his or her professional duties to you. The doctor or dentist must have failed to fulfill his or her professional duties while treating you as a patient.
  3. The practitioner’s misconduct caused your injuries. The breach of duty of care must have caused the injuries or damages in question.
  4. You suffered because of the practitioner’s negligence. Finally, you or your lawyer must have proof of real, measurable damages such as physical injuries or hospital bills.

Some medical malpractice claims relate to a defective product rather than a negligent doctor. If you have a product liability claim for a defective medical or dental product, your product liability lawyer will generally not have to prove negligence. Instead, it will be sufficient to demonstrate that the medical device contained a defect and caused your injuries. Work with an attorney for either type of claim to maximize your odds of success.