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Dental Infection Prevention Claim Fails

Thursday, June 7, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tom Jensen
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Patient sought dental care for wisdom tooth pain and noted in intake forms an allergy to penicillin/sulfa drugs. Dentist extracted the tooth and prescribed no medication but for ibuprofen. Patient returned two days later with severe symptoms; dentist prescribed antibiotics. Returning the next day patient was given an increased dosage of antibiotics. Shortly thereafter a portion of patient's jaw was removed resulting in a scar and facial deformity. In the ensuing suit patient claimed she should have been given pre-operative antibiotics because she may have presented with infection initially. However, patient's expert could not say within a reasonable degree of medical probability that the administration of antibiotics would have prevented or reduced the severity of her infection or eliminated the need for her subsequent hospitalization and surgery. Trial court's defense summary judgment was affirmed in Chatman v. Fowler, 2018 WL 2440507 (Tex. App. May 31, 2018). Given patient's expert's inability to opine pre-operative administration of antibiotics would have prevented the outcome, causation could not be shown. Nor could the common knowledge exception aid the patient. The "treatment of an infection is clearly not within the purview of a lay person's knowledge." Having presented insufficient evidence the dentist's action caused her injuries, summary judgment was properly granted. 

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