A Little Periodontitis Mistake That Cost a Dentist $200,000

periodontitis malpractice lawsuitA dental patient has sued his dentist for malpractice, claiming supervised neglect, which caused him periodontitis.

Former patient Harry Berkowitz asked for compensatory damages from his dentist Dr. Dennis Miller (D.D.S) for his failure in diagnosing the periodontal disease that was silently progressing for years and ultimately destroying his teeth.

WorldDental.org reports that Berkowitz, who was a steady patient of Dr. Miller, always maintained regular dental checkups. It was at just one of these regular check-ups in 2009 where Berkowtiz learned from his Physician that he would need extensive root canal therapy. Since this seemed out of the ordinary from his usual dental treatments, Berkowitz decided to obtain a second opinion with another dentist.

The second dentist told Harry Berkowitz that he was apparently suffering from a severe periodontal disease that was badly affecting all his upper teeth. He was referred to a periodontist who extracted all but two of his upper teeth and then replaced them with permanent bridges and dental implants.

In his legal claim against his regular dentist, Mr. Berkowitz stated he was never asked for an x-ray examination to diagnose the periodontal disease that claimed most of his upper teeth. Dr. Miller countered this allegation by stating that he had suggested several treatment options to Berkowitz over the 20 years he was his patient, but Berkowitz declined some of the doctor’s treatment suggestions by insisting that full dental care would be too expensive.

The malpractice case was settled in the amount of $200,000.

When I first started as a dental management consultant — over 20 years ago — attorneys were attending seminars on how to sue dentists for periodontal neglect. And of course I had one of my doctors sued for this. The case was dismissed when we presented the scheduling book (yes a real hard copy book) showing the patient had missed or no-showed for continuing care appointments eleven times in a two-year period.

The issue was documentation of the patients failure to accept and complete treatment. Your ultimate protection is to dismiss the patient!

How do you screen for periodontitis? What do you do when patients refuse your dental treatment suggestions?

For more on this story see: Matters of the Law: Patient Sues Dentist for Neglect.

Periodontal Examinations: Dentists Recommend More Than 1 a Year

periodontal disease Dentists perform periodontal examinations once a year, we found in our recent survey, with some dentists preferring to do this procedure twice a year or more.

In fact, 14 percent of the dentists we surveyed are likely to recommend periodontal exams every three months.

“It should be done every time the patient comes in even if they see the dentist,” advised one dentist, “Generally, the patient should be seen 4 times a year.”

The respondents to this survey tended to perform periodontal examinations at least once a year.

43% recommend periodontal examinations once a year
33% recommended periodontal examinations at least twice a year
14% recommend periodontal examinations four times a year
9% recommended periodontal exam frequency on the need of their patients

Here are some comments from dentists:

“For periodontal maintenance complete charting should be done every three months.” (Florida periodontist)

“We probe at each cleaning visit, so the frequency varies based on the needs of the patient, ie: either 4x, 3x, or 2x per year.” (Arizona dentist)

“I recommend 3 to 4 times per year depending on the patient that I have diagnosed with having a case type III or higher.” (Illinois dentist)

“For the average healthy patient – once a year. For the patient with active periodontitis – every appointment.- For the patient with perio who has been been controlled for at least a year – annual full probes, and spot probes at other appointments.” (General Dentist)

“This all depends on the patient’s periodontal health. We do periodontal probings at each new patient exam and all recall/recare appointments with the RDH.” (Kentucky dentist)

“A four-month recall for adults is best!” (Virginia dentist)

“If a patient has aggressive periodontitis, we probe more frequently, and have the periodontist check the patient annually as well.” (Texas dentist)

“My hygienists probe at each hygiene appointment –every 3-4 months for perio patients.” (General dentist)

Read more: Periodontal Exams Should Be Done Every Time A Patient Sees The Dentist.

53% of Dentists Placing Dental Implants (video)

53% of Dentists Placing Dental Implants (video)Dental implants are quickly becoming the dental treatment of choice for dental patients with missing teeth, according to dentists who place dental implants.

Prosthodontists, periodontists and oral surgeons do all the dental implants, but so do general dentists.

Specialists claim that they are more qualified to place implants, but a lot of general dentists also place implants.

Due to the exponential growth in the placement of dental implants in recent years, The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they place their own dental implants.

Responded one dentist, “I place implants myself, but only in ideal situations.”

Another general dentist said, “After referring my dental patients to specialists and getting back poor work I thought: How much worse can I do? Now I offer implants.”

To hear more of what dentists had to say about dentists placing dental implants, Click on Play to watch the following video:

What are your thoughts on dentists placing dental implants?

Are you placing implants at your dental practice?

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