The Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Statute may apply to claims alleging negligent dental care as well as medical care. In a February 8, 2019 Maryland medical malpractice action, the plaintiff sued her oral surgeon for dental malpractice and lack of consent. The case went to trial before a jury. At the close of the plaintiff’s case, the court granted the defendant’s motion for judgment, which prevented the issues from going to the jury. The plaintiff ultimately succeeded on appeal in having the judgment reversed on her malpractice claim.
The defendant in the case removed the plaintiff’s wisdom teeth. After the surgery, the plaintiff noticed that she could no longer taste food on the left side of her tongue and had lost sensation in that area. She was evaluated by a neurologist, who diagnosed her with a serious injury to her left lingual nerve. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant.
At trial, the plaintiff’s expert witness testified that nerve damage such as hers may be caused by sectioning the tooth, a procedure that requires cutting a small bone between the roots of the tooth. He explained that if the surgeon cuts too deep, he may hit a lingual nerve. The plaintiff’s dental records, however, did not state whether or not the defendant sectioned her tooth. The defendant then testified that he may or may not have sectioned the tooth. The trial court later granted a judgment for the defendant on the malpractice claim, reasoning that the plaintiff’s expert did not specifically provide an opinion as to how the nerve was injured.