The Australian Litigation Landscape - Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and General Dentistry (Oral Surgery Procedures): An Analysis of Litigation Cases

Australian Dental Journal, Forthcoming

Posted: 10 Jul 2016 Last revised: 23 Nov 2016

See all articles by Emma Badenoch-Jones

Emma Badenoch-Jones

Queensland University of Technology

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Anthony Lynham

University of Queensland

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Background: There are persistent concerns about litigation in the dental and medical professions. These concerns arise in a setting where general dentists are more frequently undertaking a wider range of oral surgery procedures, potentially increasing legal risk.

Methods: Judicial cases dealing with medical negligence in the fields of general dentistry (oral surgery procedure) and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery were located using the three main legal databases. Relevant cases were analysed to determine the procedures involved, the patients’ claims of injury, findings of negligence, and damages awarded. A thematic analysis of the cases was undertaken to determine trends.

Results: Fifteen cases over a twenty-year period were located across almost all Australian jurisdictions (eight cases involved general dentists; seven cases involved Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons). Eleven of the fifteen cases involved determinations of whether or not the practitioner had failed in their duty of care; negligence was found in six cases. Eleven of the fifteen cases related to molar extractions (eight specifically to third molar).

Conclusions: Dental and medical practitioners wanting to manage legal risk should have regard to circumstances arising in judicial cases. Adequate warning of risks is critical, as is offering referral in appropriate cases. Pre-operative radiographs, good medical records, and processes to ensure appropriate follow-up are also important.

Keywords: Health law, Medical law, Dental law, Negligence, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Suggested Citation

Badenoch-Jones, Emma and White, Ben and Lynham, Anthony, The Australian Litigation Landscape - Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and General Dentistry (Oral Surgery Procedures): An Analysis of Litigation Cases (2015). Australian Dental Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806736

Emma Badenoch-Jones

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000
Australia

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Anthony Lynham

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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