SC Jury Awards Dental Patient $2M After Clinic Accidentally Extracted 13 Teeth

A Florence, South Carolina jury recently awarded an injured dental patient $2 million in a medical malpractice verdict after the Sexton Dental Clinic mistakenly pulled all 16, instead of three, of her front teeth out – $1.5 million of that award constituted punitive damages against the clinic and the dentist who performed the procedure.

Dental malpractice

Although dental malpractice lawsuits are fairly rare, a 28 year old South Carolina woman found that she was forced to file a lawsuit against the Sexton Dental Clinic (SDC). According to an article in The State, Elizabeth Smith went to SDC to have three of her upper teeth extracted and to have a partial upper denture installed after chipping a tooth. However, when the procedure was complete and her anesthesia wore off, she was horrified to discover that the dentist, Dr. Robert Scott, had mistakenly pulled not three, but all 16 of her upper teeth.

She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against SDC and a jury awarded her $2 million in damages. While $500,000 of that award was for actual damages, the other $1.5 million was for punitive damages against the company. At trial, her South Carolina medical malpractice attorney was able to prove to the jury that, even though SDC denied it, its employees tried to cover up the mistakes by entering misleading information in her dental charts. The verdict will allow her to have her teeth fixed.

13.5% of all dentists get sued

According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, there were nearly 35,000 reports of medical malpractice made to the National Practitioner Databank regarding US dentists from 1990 to 2004 and 13.5% of all US dentists had a malpractice report made against them from 1990 to 2003. While dental malpractice lawsuits are certainly not as common as medical malpractice lawsuits, the same theories of liability apply. If you've been injured by a dental procedure gone wrong, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.