For those who already dread a trip to the dentist, here is one more reason to avoid making the appointment. According to a woman from Jessamine County, her dentist dropped a tool in her mouth and she reflexively swallowed it.
According to a medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Fayette Circuit Court in Kentucky, the woman was having part of her dentures cleaned when the tool allegedly slipped out of the dentist's hand. The dentist encouraged her to attempt to regurgitate it, which she was unable to do. The patient claims the dentist told her to have a chiropractor take and x-ray, so she did and brought them back to him. The dentist then told her to eat a lot of fiber and allow the tool, which the lawsuit describes as a screwdriver, to pass naturally.
About 30 days later, the tool had still not appeared and she was experiencing some pain, so the woman went to Saint Joseph's hospital and ended up having to have an appendectomy to have it removed. The lawsuit filed on her behalf claims the dentist was negligent because he did not have the tool secured in any way and he allowed it to drop down her throat. The dentist's response to the lawsuit says the tool was not a screwdriver, that he did not lose control during the procedure, and that he encouraged her to go to the University of Kentucky emergency room, but the patient refused.
The lawsuit, which the dentist would obviously like to have dismissed, is asking for damages for several reasons. Compensation for pain and suffering is commonly requested in medical malpractice lawsuits. The patient in this case had to endure abdominal pain, surgery, and a recovery that all would not have occurred if the tool had not been dropped into her during the procedure. Her suffering may also include mental distress from worrying about the tool being lodged in her and what damage it might be causing. She has also requested money to cover the medical bills that resulted from having the x-rays done and her surgery and stay in the hospital. The lawsuit also claims that her ability to work and make money was also affected by the dentist's negligence. Even though she was 71 years old when the suit was filed, it is entirely possible that she was still working at the time of the incident because she needed the income.
Medical malpractice and negligence claims can be difficult to litigate. Many states are requiring victims to go through arbitration or a medical review board before an actual lawsuit can be filed. This process can delay the filing of the lawsuit, and ultimately the receipt of compensation. Fortunately, Kentucky does not require either of those processes and there is no cap on the amount an individual can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. The Kentucky medical malpractice attorneys at Miller & Falkner can answer any questions you may have about filing a lawsuit if you think you have been a victim of a medical professional's negligence.
Dentist responds to lawsuit after tool found in woman's digestive system; WKYT; Brittany Pelletz; June 5, 2012
Woman sues Lexington dentist after screwdriver had to be surgically removed; Lexington Herald-Leader; Josh Kegley; April 27, 2012