Maryland Plaintiff Files Dental Malpractice Suit Alleging Nerve Damage from Tooth Extraction

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.

To establish a claim for medical or dental negligence in Maryland, a plaintiff must prove (1) the applicable standard of care; (2) that this standard has been violated; and (3) that this violation caused the complained of harm.  Due to the complexity of these cases, expert testimony is normally required to establish breach of the standard of care and causation.

In reviewing the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland found it to mean that, although there are other ways for a nerve injury to occur during surgery, he thinks it happened by sectioning.  The court found his testimony sufficient to meet the basic elements of the claim, and allow the question to proceed to the jury.  The judgment on the malpractice claim was therefore reversed, and the matter was remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have the knowledge and skill to advise you in a health care lawsuit.  We handle personal injury cases arising out of premises liability accidents, auto collisions, and unacceptable medical treatment.  Discuss your injury with one of our compassionate attorneys in a free legal consultation, which you can schedule by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting Foran and Foran online.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Plaintiff Objects to Admission of Expert’s Testimony in Medical Malpractice Appeal, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published April 27, 2018

Maryland Plaintiff’s Delay in Seeking Medical Care Is No Defense for Doctor Who Subsequently Treated Him,  Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 30, 2018

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