Personal injury claims against dentists are on the rise
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The Dental Defence Union has recently announced that the amount of personal injury claims worth £100,000 or more has quadrupled in the UK since 2006, with the DDU confirming that it had settled a total of 11 claims for compensation totalling over £100k on behalf of its dental members in 2015 alone.
In the 10 years which have passed, the DDU says that it’s recompensed patients who have chosen to pursue personal injury claims to the tune of almost £5 million, when also taking associated legal costs into account too.
The Dental Defence Union said that the single highest amount of compensation paid out (£120,000) was in relation to a patient whose dental practitioner at the time had failed to both identify and subsequently provide treatment for periodontal disease, which ultimately led to the claimant having teeth removed which might have been prevented if diagnosed earlier.
Meanwhile another dental patient who had received substandard crown fitment was awarded a sum said to be in excess of six-figures in terms of personal injury compensation for what amounted to a medical negligence claim, whilst other cases cost the DDU upwards of £200,000 after legal fees were acknowledged.
Amongst the most recurrent of allegations lodged by aggrieved patients was that implants or cosmetic work was commonly quoted as being either unsatisfactory or excessive by those who’d undertaken a procedure, with some even suggesting that the finished appearance wasn’t how they’d imagined it would be beforehand.
The head of the DDU, John Makin said this when the news of six-figure compensation pay-outs increasing four-fold in the last decade broke of late; “We are seeing disturbing rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims and a surge of claims exceeding a hundred thousand pounds against our dental members.”
However Makin went on to counter; “These payments are no reflection on clinical standards, which remain high, but rather a result of a combination of rising patient expectations and the availability of No Win No Fee* arrangements for clinical negligence claims.”
The DDU’s head honcho also took the opportunity to point out that over the past 3 years it’s reimbursed more in legal costs demanded by solicitor’s involved in representing claimants than it has in actual compensation to individual patients who have been wronged by dentists over that time.
That said, Makin also recognised that – and as he put it – ‘the combination of the increases in the size and number of compensation claims is leading to a toxic mix in which indemnity is becoming more expensive for individual dental professionals.’