Use of Unsterilized Dental Equipment
It goes without saying that any type of dental or medical treatment should be administered under the most sterile conditions possible to avoid the risk of infection. In most cases, health care professionals work hard to make sure that this happens. Sometimes, however, equipment is not cleaned properly – or may be “cleaned” but not sterilized – due to neglect. The use of unsterilized dental equipment on a patient can cause serious harm and even death. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the use of unsterilized dental equipment, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Rockland County dental malpractice lawyer Valerie J. Crown can help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several administrative recommendations that can decrease the risk of infection in dental settings. These include developing prevention programs, providing necessary supplies to personnel, maintaining written policies and procedures based on current guidelines, and developing a system for early detection of potentially infectious persons. The CDC also offers advice regarding the cleaning and sterilization of particular dental implements. For instance, surgical instruments and periodontal scalers pose the greatest risk of transmitting infections, and they should be sterilized by using heat. Items like mouth mirrors, amalgram condensers, and dental impression trays pose a lower risk of infection but should still be sterilized by using heat if possible. For non-critical patient care items like blood pressure cuffs, a thorough cleaning followed by the use of a hospital disinfectant is recommended.Proving Negligence in a Dental Malpractice Case
When proper procedures are not followed, and a patient is exposed to unsterilized dental equipment, he or she should consider the possibility of filing a dental malpractice claim against the dental professional whose careless conduct caused him or her to be harmed. As with ordinary medical malpractice claims, allegations of negligence against a dentist or other dental practitioner must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence before a judgment can be entered in the patient’s favor in court. This means that the patient and their malpractice lawyer have the burden of proving the elements of the tort of negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. In most cases, the plaintiff must have an expert witness who will testify as to the applicable standard of care in the case, render an opinion as to how the standard of care was breached, and explain which damages occurred to the patient as a direct and proximate result of the dentist or other provider’s breach of the duty of care owed to the patient under the circumstances.
In many cases, the defendant will have his or her own expert witness, whose opinion will differ from the opinion of the expert retained by the plaintiff. If the case proceeds to trial, it will be up to the jury, as the trier of fact, to decide how to reconcile any conflicts in this and other testimony. It is important that a dental patient be represented by an attorney who regularly handles dental malpractice cases, including those arising from the use of unsterilized dental equipment, so that they meet all of the applicable procedural requirements and protect their right to damages.Contact a Rockland County Attorney About a Potential Dental Malpractice Claim
Attorney Valerie J. Crown helps dental patients pursue maximum monetary compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence of dentists and other health care professionals. For an appointment to discuss your potential claim with a member of our team, call us now at 845-708-5900 or contact us online. Alternatively, you can call Valerie on her cell phone at 845-598-8253 at any time of day or night. We represent patients in Rockland County and elsewhere in Greater New York, including in Westchester, Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties and in New York City. There is a limited time to bring a claim for professional negligence, so it is important that you obtain legal advice about your situation as soon as possible.