Failure to admit a mistake

This case concerned a patient in the east of the country, who attended her regular dentist every six months since 1993. The patient in question then attended another dentist in order to have some cosmetic work carried out. However, after checking her gums and teeth, this new dentist told her that he couldn’t do the cosmetic work, as her gums were not in a fit state. The dentist questioned when she had last visited a dentist, and when she said it had been in the last six months, the patient felt he didn’t believe her, implying that, with the state of her mouth, it looked like she hadn’t been to a dentist in years.

The patient then requested her dental records where all her visits had been recorded. She was shocked that after attending a dentist every six months for most of her life, she had now found herself in this mess. The patient went to a periodontist and a specialist. At this stage, she had been forced to pay a considerable sum for dental work and was suffering pain and stress. She was not able to chew anything hard.

The woman sent her original dentist a letter regarding the complaint, however she received no reply to this letter. She then decided to take her case to the Dental Complaints Resolution Service.

Michael Kilcoyne wrote to the dentist in question, to address the patient’s complaint. After some exchange, the dentist agreed to pay the patient €40,000 to cover the cost of treating her teeth. Because it was such a large settlement, the dentist involved referred it to Dental Protection. The breakdown of this €40,000 was: €27,900 for the cost of implants/treatment/gum tissue; €5,100 to refund the cost of treatment already paid out by the patient; and, €7,000 to cover the cost of regular check-ups for the next 10 to 12 years.

According to Mr Kilcoyne, this situation could have been resolved more easily if the dentist had listened to his patient and if a mistake had been made, to deal with it; there is no crime in making a mistake, and there is no crime in rectifying that mistake.