Squamous Cell Carcinoma Dental Malpractice

Dentist with PatientDentists get sued all of the time in Maryland. Why? The truth is dentist commit malpractice. A lot. There is one Maryland lawyer who regularly brings cases for dental malpractice. Most of these claims are viable but do not involve significant damages. But there are a few ways that a dentist can make a mistake that leads to permanent injuries and death. One involves anticoagulants mismanagement that can often cause patients to have a stroke. Another potential way dentist are exposed to significant malpractice liability is missing signs and symptoms of cancer. In this case, the injuries to the plaintiff were thankfully not fatal but they are allegedly permanent.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The standard of care requires dentists to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of the most common forms of oral cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly see oral cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma has a varied clinical presentation which may include white patch, red patch, patch, red and white patch, ulceration, or exophytic lesions. Dentists need to be able to identify any lesion that could possibly be squamous cell carcinoma and make sure it is evaluated, most likely with a referral to a specialist.

This common form of oral cancer carries a grave risk of disfigurement - which is what apparently happened in the case we will discuss - and even death for the patient.

CHO V. PARK

This dental malpractice claim was filed in Baltimore County after the cancerous lesion in a man's mouth went misdiagnosed for eight months. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on March 29, 2018, and it is the 151st medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

During a regular dental appointment, a dentist noticed a lesion in his patient's mouth. The dentist advised the man to keep an eye out for symptoms of the lesion, but several months went by before the dentist began to actively treat the man's oral lesion.

When the dentist finally did treat the lesion, he only provided care for what he suspected was fungi without performing thorough diagnostic testing. He gave the man a 10-day prescription for antibiotics but was slow to schedule a follow-up appointment after the antibiotic therapy was complete.

At the delayed follow up visit, the dentist performed a brush biopsy which identified abnormal skin cells, large nuclei, and fungi. The dentist should have gone on to perform an incisional biopsy after receiving the concerning brush biopsy results, but he failed to do so.

Later, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical System diagnosed the lesion as a growth of skin cancer, located on the inside left cheek in the area behind the wisdom teeth. Under the dentist's negligent care, the man had been suffering for eight months with a non-healing cancerous lesion that grew into his oral cavity and mandibular bone. As a result of the delayed diagnosis, the man's upper lip and jaw are permanently misaligned, making it difficult to chew and annunciate words.

Additional Comments
  • The technical medical term for the claimant's particular cancer type and location is a "Left Retromolar Trigone Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the oral cavity with mandibular bone involvement." When detected and treated early, this type of cancer has a nearly 100% rate of survival with minimal damage. The longer it goes untreated, the tumor will grow deeper and become more disfiguring.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma in the oral cavity comes from the epithelial cells of the mucosa which line the oral cavity.
Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore County
Defendant
  • A dentist in Lutherville
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • University of Maryland Medical System
Negligence
  • Failing to timely diagnose and properly treat the claimant's squamous cell carcinoma.
Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendant's negligence, the claimant suffered permanent injuries, disabilities, and disfigurement. The claimant required extensive follow-up care, including expensive surgeries.
  • Breach of contract
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