Dental surgeon practicing as orthodontist – Medical negligence

  • Posted on: July 04, 2024

Some speciality and super-speciality could have thin line of demarcation; such as dentistry and orthodontics. One thing is crystal clear though; providing treatment beyond one’s expertise is medical negligence.

A young girl, accompanied by her father, consulted a dental surgeon for the purpose of straightening her teeth. The dental surgeon performed a procedure during which a tooth was extracted.

The furious father sued the dental surgeon, alleging that he was not competent to perform the procedure, only an orthodontist was. He cited medical text to bolster this claim. It was also alleged that the dental surgeon did not perform pre-procedure X-ray.

Citing a gazetted document, the dental surgeon rebutted these allegations, stating that dental surgeons can practice all branches of dentistry provided they have adequate qualifications, competence and training.

The Commission did not accept this defence, observing that:

I find that the prescription issued by dental surgeon shows that he has a BDS degree. The said prescription does not bear any registration number though. The prescription also does not bear anything to the effect that the he has sufficient knowledge, qualification, competence and bona fide training in the matter of treatment for straightening and rearranging the teeth. So, the prescription issued by him is a defective one.”

“The overwhelming evidence on record goes to show that there was no improvement after treatment and the patient suffered along with some defects on the face. She feels very uneasy to take food. This fact proves that the dental surgeon has not considered and treated the condition of gums prior or during the orthodontic treatment.”

“There is no whisper in the prescription that the dental surgeon took X-ray of patient’s mouth. Taking X-ray before performing the treatment for straightening and rearranging the teeth is very important to know the internal structure of organs. Failure to take pre-operative X-ray certainly amounts to gross negligence. Further, the dental surgeon has not adduced any evidence to show that straightening and rearranging of the teeth can be performed without pre-operative of X-ray.”

“I am of the opinion that practising super speciality in dentistry i.e., orthodontics without formal, recognized postgraduate qualification in orthodontics is considered as medical negligence.”

The dental surgeon was held negligent and ordered to pay five lakh rupees compensation.

Source : Order pronounced by West Bengal State Consumer Redressal Commission on 24th June, 2024.