Dentist removed incorrect tooth without consent

A New Zealand dentist has had their competence come into question after removing the wrong tooth, despite the patient telling him it was a different tooth he needed to have extracted.

New Zealand’s Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Dr Vanessa Caldwell released a report outlining how a man in his 40s wished to have one of his right front teeth removed as it was sore and loose. During his appointment with his dentist, he was only briefly asked about the location of the tooth he wished to have extracted.

As a result, the dentist mistakenly assumed it was a different tooth the man wished to have removed.

The report states the dentist stopped the extraction mid-way as he encountered resistance and realised the wrong tooth was being removed.

He asked the patient to confirm which tooth he wanted to be extracted, and despite being told it was a different tooth, continued to extract the initial tooth without consent, before proceeding to also extract the correct tooth.

Caldwell found that the dentist was in breach of several rights in the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) and has referred him to the Director of Proceedings for legal review.

Caldwell said the care provided “neglects the most basic requirements of a competent dentist”.

In addition to the legal review, Caldwell recommended the dentist apologise to the patient and undertake further training.

She also recommended the Dental Council of New Zealand consider whether a review of the dentist’s competence is warranted and the DHB undertake an audit of recent tooth extractions by the dentist.

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