Dentist facing legal review after extracting wrong tooth

A dentist who pulled out the wrong tooth despite his patient’s resistance in the chair is facing discipline.

File photo.
Photo: 123rf

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Dr Vanessa Caldwell has released a report finding the dentist in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights and referred him for legal review.

The patient, a man in his 40s, visited the dentist in December 2020 to get his right front tooth extracted because it was sore and wiggly.

Instead, the dentist started extracting a molar, which he continued to pull out despite the patient informing him it was the wrong tooth.

“The dentist stopped the extraction midway, as he encountered resistance, and realised the wrong tooth was being extracted,” Caldwell said in the report.

“The dentist asked the man to confirm which tooth he wanted removed, and, despite the man identifying another tooth, continued with the initial extraction without obtaining consent from the man, before proceeding to extract the correct tooth.”

Caldwell has recommended the Dental Council consider the dentist’s competence and has asked the DHB to audit recent tooth extractions by the dentist.

“Throughout the process, the dentist only briefly asked the man about the location of the tooth he wished to have extracted, provided minimal information about the treatment proposed, and made assumptions about his wishes and expectations for care,” she said.

Dentists must obtain informed consent for the treatment they provide.

“Having the consumer identify which teeth he or she wants to be extracted is a basic step to obtain informed consent for a tooth extraction,” Caldwell said.

In her report Caldwell said the dentist did not obtain an adequate history from the man, or conduct an appropriate clinical examination before proceeding with the extraction.

She said he failed to identify the correct tooth for extraction.

Caldwell also found that the dentist did not provide the man with adequate information about the procedure; did not gain informed consent, nor maintain adequate or accurate records.

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