Severe Oral Infection Spreads After Minor Dental Procedure

    Dentistry Expert WitnessThis case involves a female patient who presented to a dental clinic with complaints of a fractured tooth on the lower left side of her mouth. According to the medical records, the dentist did not take x-rays before proceeding with the tooth extraction. The dentist removed the broken tooth and filled the void with composite material. He performed a temporary bridge procedure before a full root canal could be done. Subsequently, the patient developed a severe facial infection following her dental treatment and required hospitalization along with the surgical drainage of an oral abscess. The doctor also failed to refer the patient to an oral surgeon or infectious disease specialist for an infection that seeded and spread systemically. The prescription of oral penicillin by the doctor on that date was too late to be effective.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • What could have been done to prevent such a severe outcome?

    Expert Witness Response E-000017

    This case depends on how bad the infection was at the initial presentation or at time of complaint by the patient. If this was a minor infection, it would be reasonable for the doctor to try to treat the patient himself with broad spectrum antibiotics. If this was a more serious infection, this patient definitely should have been referred to a specialist immediately and not doing so can be considered below standard of care.

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