I will start posting cases I find about negligence and late oral cancer diagnosis. Why? Survivors need to be aware about their options in a medical malpractice case. Also, this blog will motivate dental professionals to avoid having the same occur in their own practice, to their own patients.
If you are a dental professional and have not seen the page on this website about protecting yourself legally, click here. I will admit that there was a lawsuit with my dentist, oral surgeon and pathologist. I had no thoughts of suing until a relative who is a lawyer came to visit me after surgery and said, “Something is terribly wrong here. A healthy young woman…and now you look like Frankenstein.” He arranged for a photographer to capture the surgical locations, which now I show at my clinical lectures. I pursued the law suit mostly because I was angry that after my diagnosis, I never heard from my dentist or oral surgeon again. During the lawsuit, I learned that my oral surgeon based his treatment on me on a biopsy report that was two years old. That is negligence. The fact was, that first biopsy was misread. My oral pathologist in New York said that tissue taken over two years ago showed moderate dysplasia. If my dysplasia was removed with clean margins, I may never had to have gone through the entire ordeal.
Here is a summary of a Oral Cancer litigation from 2006 published on the Oral Cancer Foundation website. It describes a case of negligence followed by suggestions for dental professionals when sending tissue for a biopsy:
- Call the laboratory to ensure receipt of the biopsy. Document the call.
- Determine when you can expect results, and note the day.
- Follow up with the laboratory if you do not receive the results on the agreed upon day.
- Set an appointment to take another biopsy if something goes awry with the first biopsy. Consider not charging for the second biopsy.
- Call the patient when you get the biopsy results. Document the details of the call. If appropriate, refer to a specialist and follow up to ensure the patient went to the specialist, and document those efforts.
- Obtain a second opinion when pathology reports are inconclusive.