Negligence by an Orthodontic Surgeon

How can I prove that nerve damage was due to negligence by an orthodontic surgeon when I had my wisdom teeth extracted?

Since oral nerve damage usually results from negligence by an orthodontic surgeon during an operation, there is a good probability that you will be entitled to claim compensation. However, you will need to enlist the services of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor to prove the surgeon was negligent under the circumstances.

Whenever negligence by an orthodontic surgeon is suspected as being the primary cause of an injury during an operation, the claimant is required to prove – with assistance from a specialist clinical negligence solicitor – that a duty of care was owed, and the breach of that duty of care resulted in an injury being sustained.

Proving that there was a breach in a duty of care and the actions of the surgeon constituted clinical negligence under the circumstances can be complicated. It must be determined – by medical opinion – that the surgeon was negligent, and nerve damage was caused as a result of an act of negligence (termed causation).

It is important to remember that the nerve damage may have been caused without the surgeon having been negligent or there may have been negligence without causation; for example – the surgeon may have made orthodontic surgery errors and have been negligent, but not have directly caused the nerve damage.

Negligence by an orthodontic surgeon can only be established by medical opinion. A clinical negligence solicitor will therefore be required to prepare the case and have it assessed by a panel of dental experts to determine whether orthodontic surgery errors were made, and whether the nerve damage could have been avoided under the circumstances.

The test which must be applied to determine if a claim for a mistake made by an orthodontic surgeon is possible is referred to as the Bolam Principle (also known as the Bolam test and Bolam standard). The Bolam principle is concerned with establishing whether a body of orthodontic surgeons, each with an ordinary level of skill, would have been able to perform the wisdom tooth extraction under the exact same set of circumstances without causing any nerve damage. If the case passes this test, a claim for a mistake made by an orthodontic surgeon should be possible.

You will also need to undergo a further oral examination to determine the exact nature of the nerve damage and the prognosis for making a full recovery over time. After arranging for you to undergo medical tests, a solicitor will then be able to calculate how much compensation you will be entitled to claim.

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