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When Dental Surgery Goes Wrong…

Posted Feb 15 2010 6:10am




TAMPA — Donna Delgado just wasn’t healing properly after dental surgery.

There was too much bleedingtoo much pain. Her head hurt. She was dizzy. She had nosebleeds and sinus infections.

And with good reasonaccording to her lawsuit: The surgeon left an inch-long piece of steel in the wound.

Lodged in Delgado’s right maxillary sinusthe drill bit burr made the 35-year-old woman miserable for nearly a year as she held down a job and cared for her childrenher lawyer said.

She wound up in a hospitalwhere the medical staff detected the foreign object. She was referred to another hospital for surgery.

According to the above St. Petersburg Times articlethe woman did return to her dentist about the problems but claims that nothing was ever done to investigate or reasonably treat the pain. According to her lawyer“A simple x-ray during a followup visit would have detected the metal piece….”

Insteadhe allegesDelgado was sent away repeatedly.

A nurse for an insurance companyDelgado had premium dental coveragehe said.

It didn’t matter.

“She was dischargedand they said‘Get over it,’ ” he said. “When she went back to complainthey kept saying‘This is normal,’ and ‘Stop complaining.’ “

According to the lawsuitwhich asks for unspecified damages and a jury trialDelgado was experiencing dizziness and numbness on her right sidewhere the burr was.

Of coursewe’re only hearing one side of the story – and one being told secondhandby the lawyer bringing suit on behalf of his clientat that. But like so many other dental and medical horror storiesit pounds home some important points:

  1. Minor pain and discomfort may be expected after dental surgeryand normallythe surgeon will prescribe a pain reliever to help you deal with it. If the pain is more than minorworsens or doesn’t go awayor if there’s excess bleeding or any other problemcontact your dentist or the dental surgeon your regular dentist referred you to.
  2. Tell both the staff person who answers the phone – andat your appointmentthe dentist – as much about the pain as possible: what it feels likeits severity (rating it on a scale of 1-10with 1 being minor and 10 being unbearableis very helpful) and how it has changed since the dentist last saw you. If you have trouble speakinghave a loved one speak on your behalf. Clear communication is vital.
  3. During follow-up examinationif the dentist says anything you don’t understandask questions. Make sure you can understand what he or she sees and recommends for treating the problem. If you’re having trouble focusing or remembering because of the painhave a friend or loved one there who can ask questions on your behalf or even take notes. A professionalconscientious dentist shouldn’t mind this.
  4. If the dentist fails to see the problem and treat it appropriatelycontact another dentist for a second opinion. Againa professionalconscientious dentist shouldn’t be offended by your getting a second opinion.


Filed under: dentistry Tagged: dental drilldental paindental surgery
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