10 Sep Alleged Dental Malpractice

The Plaintiff in the case of De Sousa v. Rogers, 2019 BCSC 128, sued two dentists. She alleged that she had received negligent dental work from both Defendants and that her life was dramatically altered as a result.

The Plaintiff claimed one dentist breached the standard of care in extracting a particular tooth.  She said she dealt with significant levels of pain that began immediately after the extraction and continued to affect her day to day ability to function.

The Plaintiff claimed the second dentist breached the standard of care when he chose to place three implants in her mouth, despite knowledge of the possibility of neuropathic pain at the site of that tooth.

There was no dispute that the Defendants owed the Plaintiff a duty of care. There was also no doubt that she had suffered pain for several years. The questions before the court were (1) whether the Defendant’s conduct breached the standard of care and, if it did, (2) whether the Defendant’s breach caused damage to the Plaintiff.

The principles governing the standard of care for a dentist are the same as those for a medical doctor. The dentist’s conduct is evaluated objectively against a reasonable dentist who possesses and exercises the skill, knowledge, and judgment of the normal prudent practitioner of his or her special group, in the particular circumstances, at the material time. When a practitioner appropriately exercises clinical judgment, an error in judgment does not amount to negligence.

The Plaintiff disputed the records, testimony, diagnoses and treatment recommendations of the Defendants but her recollection was poor. The judge had to consider her evidence in light of this.

The Defendants had chart notations that provided a clear record of what had occurred. They relied on contemporaneous chart notes and their evidence was unshaken in cross-examination. The judge accepted their evidence.

The judge held that the Plaintiff did not establish that either dentist breached the standard of care in performing the extraction or proceeding with the implants, respectively. The Plaintiff also failed to establish that the treatment by the dentists was the cause of her pain. As such, the Plaintiff’s case against the Defendants was dismissed.