Did My Child's Orthodontist Uphold the Standard of Care?
Getting braces seems almost like a rite of passage these days. Most kids seem to get braces sometime during, or even before, their teens. Even adults are getting braces; in decades past, adult orthodontia was a rarity, while today, it's not unusual to see a forty year old with braces. As common as orthodontia has become, many people are surprised to learn of the risks it carries—including the risk of orthodontic malpractice.
Of course, most orthodontic procedures go off without problems that rise to the level of orthodontic malpractice. How can you tell if your child's orthodontist (or your own) breached the standard of care that a reasonable orthodontist would uphold?
Understanding Orthodontic Malpractice
It's important to understand that not all pain or less-than-perfect results from orthodontia equals malpractice. Whether your child had conventional braces or an aligner-based system like Invisalign, you almost certainly were required before treatment to sign a form detailing the risks of treatment. (You should also have received a copy of this form.) The risks identified may occur even with the best, most diligent treatment.
So what does constitute orthodontic malpractice? Like any other type of medical malpractice or dental malpractice, certain elements must be present for a court to conclude malpractice occurred. There must be a duty of care, which is created by the doctor-patient relationship. There must have been a breach of that duty, which is to say that the orthodontist did not act as a reasonable orthodontist with similar training in that area would have acted under the same circumstances. This breach of duty must also have resulted in some harm to the patient. If there is no harm, there are no damages to be paid, no matter how badly the orthodontist breached his or her duty of care.
What are some of the ways in which orthodontic malpractice occurs? Here is a sampling of more common instances:
- Failure to inform patients of risks of procedures
- Performing orthodontic treatment without sufficient training
- Excessive force during treatment
- Failure to properly monitor the progress of patients with braces, leading to root resorption, pain, periodontal disease, and teeth that are incorrectly positioned
- Incorrectly applying braces to teeth, leading to the problems indicated above
- Treating patients with Invisalign when that system is inappropriate for their condition or needs
- Incorrectly applying Invisalign
- Overbilling, billing a patient and his or her insurance company for the same charges, or other unfair billing practices
If you suspect any of these has happened to you or your child, you should consult an experienced Portland, Oregon medical malpractice attorney for a consultation.
Why You Need the Advice of an Experienced Portland, Oregon Orthodontic Malpractice Attorney
Few personal injury attorneys in Oregon are skilled in medical malpractice, and fewer still handle orthodontic malpractice cases. These cases are complex, and experienced attorneys are able to give you a “road map” to let you know what to expect, including the strength of your case and likely outcomes. An ethical orthodontic malpractice attorney will review all the facts and circumstances of your situation and will never advise you to pursue a case that is unlikely to be successful. In some cases, you may have signed documents at the outset of treatment that limit the recovery you can pursue in the case of malpractice. Whatever your situation, an experienced malpractice attorney will help you identify the next steps to take.
If you suspect you or your child has been injured by orthodontic malpractice, We invite you to contact Huegli Fraser for a consultation. We will apply Oregon law to the facts of your situation, help you explore your options, perform any necessary investigation, and advocate for you if you decide to pursue a malpractice case against your orthodontist.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.