A woman who had to have a jaw reconstruction and all her bottom teeth removed after a simple tooth extraction is suing a Queensland hospital.
Suzanne Marie Scott, 48, claims medical staff at Kirwan Women’s Hospital in Townsville should have diagnosed the onset of osteomylitis – a chronic bone infection – and stopped it before the need for surgery, The Townsville Bulletin reports.
In her statement of claim, Ms Scott said she endured “significant pain” and it was “extremely embarrassing” to go out in public.
“I cannot eat except soft foods such as custard, porridge and yoghurt,” she said. “I cannot chew. I believe once I was showing the symptoms of osteomylitis I should have been treated much earlier.”
Yet how could the defendant have diagnosed – let alone, treated – her if, as they claim, she didn’t return for over a year, despite being told to do so “if pain persists”? You can’t help a patient who isn’t there.
Had she gone back, they might well have seen a dry socket. This complication occurs when the blood clot that forms in the extraction site gets dislodged or dissolves shortly after the surgery. Since bone and nerves are no longer protected, anything that touches the area – air, food, drink – can hurt. A lot. The exposed tissues are also more vulnerable to infection, and this can develop into full blown osteomyelitis.
One thing we don’t know is whether the patient had been taking bisphosphonates before the surgery – osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax and Boniva. These drugs are meant to increase bone density but have the ironic “side effect” of raising risk of bone fracture and jawbone osteonecrosis, another cavitation-related condition. This is why the surgeon we refer our patients to – Dr. Michael Shaw in Modesto – always runs blood tests before treating those who take these drugs. If the values are too high, he will not do the surgery. The risks are simply too great.
And as the Hippocratic Oath goes, “First, do no harm…”
In case you missed it and would like to learn more about cavitations and their impact on health, see the video we shared just last week .