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£35,000 damages for patient who has had six teeth removed following claim against her dentist for poor care

Georgie_Feder


A woman has received a £35,000 damages settlement after making a legal claim against her dentist for failing to properly care for her – causing her years of excruciating pain and the loss of a number of teeth.

Mother-of-two Georgie Feder, 43, only discovered she had 50 per cent bone loss due to gum disease after switching her dentists.

The poor care has led to her since having six of her back teeth removed, and facing prolonged remedial treatment to tackle gum disease and ensure permanent new implants can be fitted successfully, following bone graft and sinus lift procedures.

Ashleigh Dance, a specialist in handling dental claims at Hudgell Solicitors, represented Mrs Feder in a legal case against dentist Robert Riley, who she saw at Stirchley Dental Practice in Telford, Shropshire.

She said it was a case of a patient suffering because of a dentist ‘rushing patients in and out and not being thorough at check-ups’, as she called for tighter regulations of the profession.

Patient alerted when told she may lose teeth by a different dentist

Mrs Feder had first complained of pain and recurring abscesses in 2012, but despite numerous visits to see Mr Riley, she says her problems worsened.

When Mr Riley was absent for one check-up, she was told by another dentist that she may need three teeth removing, causing her to question her care and start doing her own research, leading to her worrying that she may have a major infection.

Having then sought further opinion from a nearby private practice in July 2015, she was informed of the full extent of her dental problems.

“They told me I had gum disease that was eating away at my jaw bone,” she said.

“I was disgusted by what had been allowed to happen to my teeth. I had been a patient at the practice since 2004 and had what I thought was a good rapport with my dentist.”

Legal claim alleged string of failures in care and treatment of gum disease

As part of the legal case against Mr Riley it was alleged he had failed to diagnose, treat or monitor Mrs Feder’s gum disease, or refer her for specialist advice.

He also faced allegations of failing to exercise reasonable skill and care in root canal treatment, crown replacement, tooth restoration, the diagnosis or treatment of tooth decay or cavities, and failed to diagnose, monitor and provide the appropriate treatment for gum disease.

This included failing to diagnose bone loss, failing to inform Mrs Feder of the extent of her problems, and failing to explain to her how gum disease could cause tooth loss if left untreated.

Although no formal admissions were made, Mr Riley’s indemnity providers agreed to a £35,000 damages settlement.

Mrs Feder, who lives in Telford, says she remains angry over the pain she suffered, believing she had been in good hands.

She said: “I remember that I kept getting abscesses when I was pregnant and he just kept giving me antibiotics rather than actual treatment. It never got any better. Once my son had been born, I’d had enough and I was in tears. The abscesses crippled me.

“I stayed with the practice for another week to see Mr Riley after seeing the other dentist at the practice in his absence. I felt so deflated. I asked why I had bone loss and all he said was some people have it and some don’t.

“He sent me away, and I still didn’t have a follow-up call. It was then that I googled it and read that I must have an infection, so that’s when I went to the private dentist for the second opinion. I got an appointment the following week and I was in tears.

“The really annoying and upsetting thing is that I have been told there was a simple fix to the problems and that it was all completely preventable. You trust these people when they tell you things and you come away believing what they say.”

Mrs Feder now remains under the care of the private practice which informed her of the extent of the treatment she required, having had treatment to prevent further bone loss. She is now awaiting implants having had six back teeth removed.

She said years of dental problems had a huge impact on her life and confidence.

“I had years of going backwards and forwards to the dentist and I believe the infection started back in about 2009,” she said.

“I had so much going on with my teeth and I would have gone private if I’d known sooner. I missed so much of my son growing up because I was in agony.

“The whole thing has had a massive impact on my confidence and had an impact on every aspect of my life. I don’t feel able to smile any more as when I smile fully you can see the gaps at the sides of my mouth.

Compensation has helped cover the cost of dental repairs

Mrs Feder added: “A lot of the compensation I have received is going on the continued dental repair work I need to have, such as root canals, implants and bridges. My new dentist has been my second home and it’s still ongoing, but I’m hoping this will be a better year.”

Mrs Dance, a specialist in handling cases of dental negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This is a classic case of someone who has seen the same dentist for a number of years, had quick check-ups and that’s it.

 “It has taken for her to go elsewhere to discover the true extent of the problem and she could still lose more teeth.

“It’s awful, she is still only young and certainly should not have faced these sorts of problems at her age. She has lost a lot of teeth already and needs invasive and further treatment in the future. If it had been picked up in the first place, she would still have all of those teeth.

“I don’t believe there is enough regulation in the dental industry. Dentists need to be more thorough and not rush patients in and out.”

Mrs Feder said she was delighted with the support and guidance from Ashleigh and Hudgell Solicitors.

“She was amazing, so sympathetic and understanding,” she said.

“She listened to me when I was down and was really caring. I can’t speak highly enough of Hudgell Solicitors and the help they gave me. The compensation has been crucial in paying for the work I have needed.”

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16/06/2017 No Comments

Error making dentists must repair the damage – and fully compensate patients for suffering and loss

Teeth and dental equipment


 

New statistics released by Citizens Advice have shown a substantial increase in the number of cases relating to poor dentistry over the past 12 months, with the service handling 4,000 enquiries over dental care problems last year.

These may be figures which shocked many – and led to national newspaper headlines – but they certainly were no surprise to our team of dental claims specialists here at Hudgell Solicitors.

The dental profession is one we have long raised concerns over, due to lapse regulations and a lack of accountability placing patients at risk.

Substandard dental service was said to be the biggest issue reported to the consumer service about dental care between April 2015 and March 2016.

People reported problems such as dentists cracking healthy teeth during a treatment, fillings coming out and dentures that didn’t fit. Further analysis of 354 of these cases revealed that three in four cases concerned, treatments actually caused the patient further problems.

In nearly a quarter (23%) of those cases patients said dentists also then refused to offer a refund or a free-of-charge repair.

In one case, a woman in her 70s paid £500 to have her teeth capped, only for the dentist to chip her two front teeth during the treatment. The dentist didn’t offer a repair or any compensation, and she then paid another dentist a further £700 to get the damage fixed.

This is truly shocking.

Patients have right to be compensated after dental negligence

When we visit our dentist, we have the right to expect the best standard of treatment by a qualified professional.

And should things do go wrong – which they often do – patients should certainly not be expected to pay to repair the damage themselves. It should be the opposite, they should be compensated for their pain, suffering, and often loss.

We represent an increasing number of clients who have suffered from poor dental treatment, from dentists simply failing to identify and treat gum disease (often despite patients having many regular check-ups) to poorly fitting crowns and painful abscesses caused by errors in treatment.

Between October 2014 and October 2015, close to 60 cases relating to sub-standard dentistry care led to patients being compensated after turning to us for help. In total, the money paid out was in excess of £540,000.

In our view, it is always advisable to seek a second opinion should you have any concerns you’re your dental treatment, especially if your dentist suddenly suggests extensive treatment, or if you have doubts over the quality of service you’ve received.

Our specialists recently secured compensation of £47,000 in a dental negligence claim as a patient had received poor care over four decades, resulted in them suffering serious gum disease and facing the loss of eight teeth.

It was only when the dentist retired from the practice, and the patient started seeing another dentist at the same surgery, that the widespread gum disease, which was destroying the patient’s gums and putting teeth at risk, was uncovered.

Dentists must ‘provide clear information about claiming compensation’

Unfortunately, dentists are often a choice of convenience, rather than research. Many simply choose practice closet to their home, without checking details on performance.

This is a risk, as most people fail to realise that dentistry is a very loosely regulated profession, leaving patients at risk of receiving sub-standard treatment, and potentially facing large bills for remedial work, should their treatment go wrong.

This is because many dentists practising in the UK abscond when they become aware of potential claims and some do not have indemnity cover in place, even though this is a requirement for registering with the GDC. Also, whilst cosmetic dentistry procedures such as veneers, laser whitening and teeth straightening are being carried out by dentists who don’t have specific qualifications or experience of the procedures. They do the work simply because they are money spinners.

Our advice is to thoroughly research a dental practice before become a patient, and to check the General Dental Council (GDC) register of professionals before agreeing to any treatment.

If you have concerns, raise them, and if in any doubt seek a second opinion.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy is calling on dentists to follow the rules by correcting their mistakes free of charge instead of passing costs onto patients, saying, and providing ‘clear information about how they can claim compensation if something goes wrong’.

Our team are available to provide that free legal advice should you or someone you know have concerns over your dental care.

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24/06/2016 No Comments

World Oral Health Day – are you in safe hands or is your dentist causing the problem?

Teeth and dental equipment


By Sarah Smith, dental negligence lawyer at Hudgell Solicitors

This Sunday marks World Oral Health Day (March 20), an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health, and the importance of oral hygiene for both old and young.

However, as specialists in handling many cases of dental neglect, our team at Hudgell Solicitors knows that whilst it’s good to celebrate healthy teeth and gums, good advice isn’t quite as simple as suggesting you should regularly visit a dentist.

Between October 2014 and October 2015, we handled close to 60 cases relating to sub-standard dentistry care, securing our clients in excess of £540,000 in compensation.

This money reflected the suffering and loss for patients at the hands of dentists they trusted, with cases ranging from dentists simply failing to identify and treat gum disease (often despite patients having many regular check-ups) to poorly fitting crowns and painful abscesses caused by errors in treatment.

One dentist took out seven teeth without the patient’s consent, whilst another patient had to have 10 teeth taken out and dentures fitted because their dentist had failed to treat and manage gum disease over a period of years.

Uninsured dentists could put patients at risk

The key question isn’t really ‘do I go to the dentist enough?’ – it is more a question of ‘how do I know my oral health and teeth are in in good hands?’

Uninsured dentists are an increasing problem in the UK, as it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of patients could be at risk from practitioners defying laws requiring them to have cover should things go wrong.

It has been estimated and reported in the national media that more than a quarter of the 40,000 dentists in the UK qualified abroad and had little or no training in Britain.

We recently represented a patient who was fitted with an ill-fitting bridge, costing her approximately £2,000. During the treatment, she suffered damage to two healthy front teeth.

As a consequence of the negligent treatment, she required root canal treatment and two crowns. The root canal treatment cost was £750+ per tooth, and the crowns required replacement around every 12 years, at a cost of approximately £700+ per crown.

However, upon investigating the claim it was discovered that not only had the dentist failed to maintain proper insurance, but also he had left the country and emigrated to South Africa.

It turned out that there was a string of complaints against this dentist, and the GDC held a Disciplinary Hearing where other allegations were heard, including poor care administered to his patients over his many years of practice.

Cosmetic dentistry is booming, but choose your dentist carefully

Cosmetic dentistry is also an increasingly worrying area, with procedures such as laser whitening and teeth straightening becoming more and more popular.

However, this boom in popularity is not evidence of a completely safe industry, as loose regulations again mean many dentists are carrying out work without having any specific qualifications, or experience of carrying out the procedures.

Last year, a survey conducted on our behalf revealed that despite 75 per cent of people being concerned about a lack of information around cosmetic surgery, close to half said they would still go through with a procedure. The most popular cosmetic work people would be happy to have was dentistry.

This demand has led to many dentists ‘cashing in’ on the boom without relevant experience, as there is no need for formal qualifications to carry out cosmetic work.

One of our clients found this out to her cost, as her veneers not only became discoloured months before her wedding, but twice cracked when she was eating.

It was only then that she discovered her teeth and gums were badly damaged as a result of the poor work of her dentist, and that it would cost her more than £7,000 – and five months of treatment – to put right.

It is therefore important to ask a dentist what experience and qualifications they have, how often they perform the cosmetic procedure in question, the common risks of the procedure, and what process is in place should something go wrong? Only go ahead with the work should you feel confident in all of these areas.

Look out for tell-tale signs of poor dental care

We’ve also represented clients who, despite religiously seeing dentists for years for check-ups and treatment, are still left suffering with gum disease and needing the removal of teeth.

Such problems can often only be discovered after a particular dentist retires or leaves. Many are left with widespread gum disease and the need to have a large number of teeth removed and replaced, at high cost.

Tell-tale signs of poor care could be a sudden need for a change in treatment, or the sudden need to remove a number of teeth.

In such a situation, it is important to ask questions as to why, given a history of treatment and assessments, such a change in a course of treatment has been required. If answers are not forthcoming, it could be worth seeking an independent opinion.

Equally, we have handled many cases where dentists have failed to inform patients of all options, often pushing them down the route of unnecessary, expensive treatment which has caused problems later down the line.

It may sound like scare-mongering, but it isn’t. Our work tells us dentists can’t always be relied upon to ensure your teeth and your oral hygiene are in the best health.

The message is, before you have your check-up at a dentist, do your own check-up on their background, the qualifications, and if you are having cosmetic work, their experience, training and cover.

 

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18/03/2016 No Comments

£540,000 compensation paid to Hudgell Solicitors’ clients in past 12 months for sub-standard dentistry

Dental Negligence | Dental equipment for claims


According to the results of numerous surveys in recent years, the thing most people look at first when judging the appearance of others is their teeth.

Seven in 10 people said they looked for a nice smile in their ideal partner in one recent survey, while only 40 per cent said they looked for a good physique.

In the same survey, more than half of men said they notice a woman’s teeth first, and that a nice white smile was key to finding someone attractive.

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08/10/2015 No Comments

You won’t be smiling if you fail to check-up on the risks of teeth whitening

smile with teeth


The desire to have a ‘celebrity smile’ has made teeth whitening one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the UK at present.

But should you scrimp on paying for a proper procedure by a qualified professional, smiling may be the last thing you feel like doing.

Recent research has suggested that many people are putting themselves at risk by choosing not to have the work carried out by a registered dental professional.

Instead, people are turning to unqualified beauty salons and therapists, who have seen the opportunity to cash in on the latest cosmetic trend.

According to a 5 Live Investigates report, The General Dental Council (GDC) has prosecuted 24 people this year – more than the entire of last year – for illegally offering teeth whitening services.

Unqualified to carry the work out themselves, some have been found to be selling teeth whitening kits – for as little as £50 – before talking customers through the procedure and allowing them to do it themselves.

Under the Dentists Act 1984, it’s illegal for anyone other than dentists or dental health professionals such as hygienists to carry out teeth whitening, and for very good reason.

Whilst the procedure is perfectly safe when carried out by a registered professional, as hydrogen peroxide is used to bleach teeth, permanent damage can be caused to teeth and gums, and chemical burns can be caused if mistakes are made.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has been clear in warning that anyone other than dental professionals won’t have the right training or knowledge, but with research suggesting that more than a third of adults have considered having their teeth whitened, more and more are making the mistake of not checking the legitimacy of those carrying out the work.

Those found to be breaking the law can, of course, face prosecution, and may be ordered to pay other costs including compensation to victims.

Unfortunately, through our work in supporting victims of dental negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, we all too often see how the dental profession is open to abuse by those looking to cash in on such trends.

We also see many patients who find themselves struggling to make claims for compensation following sub-standard treatment, as there is no legal requirement for dentists to have professional insurance.

We advise people to take great care and consideration when considering cosmetic dental work.

Firstly, make sure you choose a registered dentist, and ensure that they are qualified and have experience in the exact procedure you require (some take on procedures they have little experience in).

Most importantly, check that the dentist you use has insurance cover, as the pain will only be made worse by the possibility of having to foot the bill for any remedial work should anything go wrong.

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22/09/2015 No Comments

Are we rushing into dental procedures?

dental check up


Recent studies have found that British women spend up to £100,000 on cosmetics in their lifetime, and so it comes as no surprise that many are now turning to cosmetic procedures for a more permanent alternative.

Despite 75% of people being concerned about a lack of information around cosmetic surgery, close to half say they would still go through with a procedure – even though the industry is notorious for being loosely regulated.

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21/09/2015 No Comments

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