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Medical Malpractice Cases May Arise After Dentist Uses Office Supplies to Treat Patients

It seems almost too appalling to be true, but a health professional was recently indicted for using office supplies – instead of legitimate sanitary medical devices – to treat patients.

Any Chicago personal injury attorney can attest that Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits arise all too often when practitioners’ intentionally harmful acts harm patients. Doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. Part of that duty includes providing the best care, and ensuring that their actions don’t unreasonably put their patients at risk.

But that unnecessary risk is exactly what has happened in a recent case where a former dentist has pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud after using paper clips instead of stainless steel posts when performing post-buildups following root canal procedures. According to a report published by MSNBC, the reason the dentist had used the paperclips was because they were significantly cheaper than the requisite steel posts. Prosecutors say that the Medicaid fraud totaled $130,000 from the scheme.

Says MSNBC, the 53 year-old dentist used sections of paper clips from his office, instead of the professionally-accepted stainless steel posts.

A “root canal” procedure is the colloquial term for an endodontic dental operation; the inner pulp of an infected tooth is removed, the duct of the tooth is cleaned out and disinfected, and then the space is packed with an inert filling material. If the tooth is weak and cannot sustain pressure on its own, a dentist will perform a post & core build-up, removing some of the filling material and implementing a stainless steel post to give the crown (the fabrication that replaces the visible tooth) some stability. When paperclip pieces are used instead of the sterile steel posts, the risks of infection are high.

Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits arise when people are injured by careless or intentional acts on the part of a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider. Healthcare professionals owe a duty of care to their patients, and when that duty is breached – such as in situations where the provider fails to diagnose an illness – the failure is said to be a “tort,” or civil wrong, which can provide the basis for a lawsuit. As a result, the healthcare professional or institution may be made to pay damages to put the injured person back in the position he or she was in prior to being injured.

Though at this point the dentist is only facing criminal charges for the alleged malpractice and harm to his patients, victims of his injurious procedure who were harmed by his paper-fastener proclivity may have grounds to file lawsuits against the dentist. The paperclip parts – and the resulting contamination – can cause infection and enormous discomfort; if personal injury lawsuits are indeed brought against the dentist, he could be made to pay his victims monetary damages for pain and suffering, as well as for the necessity of future medical and dental work. Additionally, a court may find that the dentist is liable for punitive damages, which are implemented in Illinois personal injury lawsuits to punish the wrongdoer for his or her egregious bad actions. Punitive damages also serve to send a message to others in similar positions to the defendant party such as other dentists, urging them not to act in the same harmful way.

Special laws are in place to protect patients from negligent or intentionally harmful health care professionals, and an attorney may be able to advise you of your rights under the law.