If a Dentist Fails to Detect Oral Cancer, Can He Be Held Liable?

Detection of a serious disease like oral cancer must take place before treatment for it can begin. All dentists are trained to detect and diagnose the presence of oral cancer, and failure to do so may constitute negligence. Depending on the specific circumstances, it might be viewed by a court as dental malpractice, and the dentist might be held liable.

In this Malpractice Guide article we will explain how to proceed with a dental malpractice lawsuit and what rights you have.

Dental Malpractice by Omission

Dental malpractice can be a result of something that is committed – meaning the dentist does something he or she should not have done. It can also be a result of omission, failing to do something that should have been done. Failure to diagnose oral cancer definitely falls into the latter category of recognized dental malpractice.

Dentists are supposed to check for oral cancer, periodontal disease and other oral diseases every time you are in their office. Even if you are having a routine teeth cleaning done by a dental hygienist, the dentist should stop in before you get out of the chair and examine your entire mouth and throat for any trouble, including oral cancer.

Holding a Dentist Liable for Failure to Diagnose Oral Cancer

While the dentist may have been negligent, you will have to clearly demonstrate that fact. Your case will have to be solid enough so that the dentist will offer a financial settlement in a lawsuit or you can win the lawsuit in court.

The first step is to contact an experienced dental malpractice attorney to represent you. Most malpractice lawyers offer free case evaluation, so you can speak with several about your case and decide who you’d like to represent you, if more than one is willing to take it.

Your medical malpractice attorney will obtain your dental records. He or she may have a dental expert review the records to determine where errors amounting to negligence were committed in your treatment. The dentist will be deposed – this means given a legally binding interview under oath – to answer questions about what he did or did not due in his treatment.

Winning a Dental Malpractice Lawsuit for Failure to Diagnose Disease

If your case is very strong, the dentist might realize he can’t win. In such cases, the dentist’s lawyer, representing the dentist’s insurance company, will likely offer to settle the case before going to trial. Your attorney can advise you on whether to accept the settlement or push the case to trial where the cash judgment might be higher if you win, but you might also lose and get nothing.

Talk with an experienced malpractice attorney about your case. A free evaluation of a potential dental malpractice lawsuit is the place to start in holding your dentist liable for failing to detect oral cancer.