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Patients May Have Grounds for a FL Dental Malpractice Suit When Their Dentists Delegate Certain Duties

When visiting the dentist for preventive care, most patients spend more time with the hygienist, who cleans teeth, takes X-rays and medical histories and identifies potential trouble spots for the dentist. Under Florida law, these actions qualify as examples of allowable remediable processes — if errors are made, they can be fixed without harm to the patient. However, if the dentist delegates more serious irremediable procedures to others in the office and patient is injured, the patients may be able to file a malpractice action.

Dentists operate under a specific set of regulations designed to help keep patients safe. Florida statutes specifically address delegation of duties by dentists. While the law provides a long list of procedures hygienists, dental assistants and others can perform, it holds the dentist ultimately responsible for delegated activities. The law also specifically prohibits anyone but the dentist from performing potentially harmful procedures such as:

  • Prescribing drugs

  • Diagnosing conditions or planning treatment

  • Any procedures that involve cutting tissue or otherwise having the potential for causing damage

While dentists who illegally delegate duties can be subject to legal sanctions if someone reports the issue, patients who receive illegally delegated services do not automatically have grounds to file a dental malpractice lawsuit. Even though the law may see dentists as legally negligent in these situations, the legal grounds for liability in any malpractice actions require the following conditions to be met:

  • The provider owed you a duty and failed to fulfill it.
  • This failure caused you injury.
  • You sustained financial or other losses from the injury.

The good news is that reputable dentists take all action necessary to correct dental errors at no additional costs to patients. However, if you suffer serious injuries at the hands of a dentist or if your dentist refuses to correct errors, you may need legal assistance. An experienced Florida dental malpractice lawyer can often intervene informally to help you obtain corrective action or take any necessary legal action to help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

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