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First off, hopefully I'm posting in the correct forum. Second, this might be a long post so bear with me.

Around August/September of 2008 my girlfriend had some pain in her tooth and went in for a dental checkup. Turns out the tooth was chipped and had been infected. She was given 2 options: extract the tooth or get a root canal. She wanted to keep her tooth so opted for the root canal.

She paid ~$400 for the root canal and had the procedure done; however, upon completing the procedure the dentist basically admitted that he botched the procedure. (Had the procedure been performed correctly, she would've gone back and had a crown put in which she would pay for at the time). He told her that she would have to have a dental bridge done, which he would pay for. She asked for a dental implant instead since the bridge would involve putting crowns on 2 teeth that were perfectly fine. He agreed and said he would pay for everything (consultations/procedures with another oral surgeon), BUT the implant itself. His reasoning was that she would have had to pay for the crown from the original root canal anyway, and the two are similar in cost.

Fast foward to today... all the procedures required for the implant have been completed. In about 2 weeks she'll have the actual implant put in, but we've done some thinking and there are a couple things we are unsure about:

- Is she entitled to a refund for the botched root canal?
- Is she obligated to pay for the actual implant? (Her dentist already paid for the other procedures)
- Who generally pays for what in a botched medical procedure?

My feeling is that the dentist can keep the money from the botched root canal if he pays all costs associated with fixing it, that includes the actual dental implant.

Some things to consider:
- She has no insurance (not sure of that's an issue)
- The root canal was to save the problem tooth, which she still ended up losing b/c of the complications in the procedure.
- What should have been 2 trips/procedures over the course of 1 month became ~10 combined trips to the dentist/oral-surgeon for consultations, a tooth extraction, followups, multiple procedures (oral surgery) and more followups over the course of 6 months.

If you've read this far, thanks.

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In this long discussion and the apparent bashing of Pun, I would just to like to point out another concurrent discussion... (more)

lial (May. 08, 2009 @ 10:06a) |

Doing a root canal (or any medical/dental procedure) isn't like taking your car to the shop to get an oil change.

Bad/Unf... (more)

lial (May. 08, 2009 @ 10:11a) |

There are many "negatives" in that above statement (I think 4), and it is confusing.

I think you are asking, "Can a docto... (more)

lial (May. 08, 2009 @ 10:36a) |

Just to clear up some confusion about the pricing/procedures:

- $400 for the root canal is a slightly discounted price for students at the local state college.
- On top of the $400 for the root canal, she would have had to pay ~$500 for the crown = ~$900 Total

- Total costs of the dental implant including consults, procedures and follow-ups are well over $2000
- The cost of the actual fake tooth to be implanted is ~$600-$700

She's already paid the $400, but did not paid the ~$500 for the crown since it wasn't needed due to the unsuccessful root canal. The dentist paid the ~$2000 for all of the procedures for the implanted tooth, but wants her to pay the ~$600-$700 for the tooth, because he thinks they are similarly priced.

His reasoning just doesn't make sense to me. We don't really have a problem paying for the original $400, but it doesn't make sense for him to factor in the cost of the $500 crown since he botched the procedure and she ended up not needing at anyway.

====

Everyone here is mixing and matching the terms.

implant = The device that is screwed into your jaw bone that acts like the root of a normal tooth.
crown = The external part of a tooth/bridge/implant that you see when you look in a mouth.
bridge = More than 1 crown cross-connected that use the adjacent teeth as a support system.

From the OP's description, these sound like the original costs:
root canal = $400 (prepares the tooth for a crown)
crown (for root canal) = $500 (placed on the root after the root canal)

These are the costs after messing up:
root canal = $400
implant = $2000
crown (for implant) = $600 - $700 (placed on the implant after the implant surgery)

The crowns are not "implanted". They are placed on top of either a root-canal-tooth or an implant.

The doctor is figuring you were planning on paying $400 and $500 = $900 originally anyways, so you should still pay that. You are figuring that you only paid $400 from the start, so anything else after the botch is on the doctor.
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Has your GF spoken with a lawyer? I've heard they sometimes dabble in medical malpractice cases.

$400 for a root canal? Seems pretty cheap.

Seems like she got quite a deal.

I'm thinking something for pain & suffering here, at least.

RedCelicaGT said: Has your GF spoken with a lawyer? I've heard they sometimes dabble in medical malpractice cases.

InterestedOnlooker said: I'm thinking something for pain & suffering here, at least.

She's a full-time nursing student and can't afford a lawyer. She's not really one to sue for the sake of suing and really just doesn't want to pay more than she's obligated to. That's why I'm posting here. In a botched procedure, what is the the party at fault generally liable for? What is the victim obligated to pay?

If it turns out that he's asking her to pay more than she's obligated to and won't change his mind about it, then we are completely open to finding a lawyer.


fwratz1 said: $400 for a root canal? Seems pretty cheap.

I'm unsure of the exact costs. It was approximately $400 + the cost of the crown (which she never got since the tooth was extracted anyway). Final cost probably would've been just under $1000.

You are not clear. You said he would not pay for "implant itself" but would pay for procedure? Which is it?

List exactly he is asking you to pay and what he would pay for.

After the botched procedure, did your GF get an agreement in writing? If so, did the paperwork outline who is responsible for what and the associated costs?

ZenNUTS said: You are not clear. You said he would not pay for "implant itself" but would pay for procedure? Which is it?

List exactly he is asking you to pay and what he would pay for.


He is paying for the procedures and the costs associated with it:
Consultations, Followups, the procedure to put in the anchor/screw

He wants her to pay for: the actual tooth that will be put in

turtlebug said: After the botched procedure, did your GF get an agreement in writing? If so, did the paperwork outline who is responsible for what and the associated costs?

As far as the procedure goes. He was upfront about it, told her immediately and gave her a letter explaining the complications and admitting fault. There is nothing in writing about costs/fees though.

IIRC, an implant and a crown are nowhere near the same price. My husband was looking at an implant vs bridge, and the difference in cost was 1-3k. The difference in price for a crown vs implant was 2-5k. Has she received a price estimate for the implant from the surgeon? I'd try and get coverage for the total implant px - total crown price (including the root canal). Good luck.

jrtang said: She's a full-time nursing student and can't afford a lawyer. She's not really one to sue for the sake of suing and really just doesn't want to pay more than she's obligated to. That's why I'm posting here. In a botched procedure, what is the the party at fault generally liable for? What is the victim obligated to pay?

A "botched procedure" is also known as malpractice. If you had called lawyers in your area, I'm sure you could have found one to give you a free consult, and they would have detailed your rights. Instead, you took his terms. Basically, you've already settled- in lieu of suing him, he's given you lots of free dental work.

If you had sued him, his malpractice insurance would have paid the claim, but it seems to me the dentist decided giving you free dental work was cheaper than his insurance rates going up. At this point, I don't think you're entitled to anything more than what you've got, because that's what you agreed to. You don't have anything left to bargain with.

(This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. Etc.)

Call your insurance company and explain what happened. Same thing happened to my dad. He didnt have to pay one dime to get it all fixed. Your insurance company will do the talking for you.

Superdude99 said: Call your insurance company and explain what happened. Same thing happened to my dad. He didnt have to pay one dime to get it all fixed. Your insurance company will do the talking for you.

GF has no insurance.

Since I had to price thsi recently in Philadelphia metro, everything cash:

Implant from -excellent- specialist is nearly $4,000 (all procedures needed).
Root canal from an -excellent- specialist ( who does ONLY root canals ) is $1250.
Crown from an -excellent- specialist are around $900.

Regardless of where she went I'd say the odds are that if she picked the same "tiers" for specialists across the board the price ratio will be simliar.

oopsz said: If you had sued him, his malpractice insurance would have paid the claim, but it seems to me the dentist decided giving you free dental work was cheaper than his insurance rates going up. At this point, I don't think you're entitled to anything more than what you've got, because that's what you agreed to. You don't have anything left to bargain with.

(This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. Etc.)
She can still sue. I am not a lawyer, but that much I know.

jrtang,
Take my advice and I suggest you follow it.

Few facts, $400 for RCT is very cheap (assuming it's a molar)
Your GF's General dentist paid for the implant procedure and he is asking her to pay for the crown and abutment of the implant. FYI, average cost of this Abutment and Crown is anywhere from $800-2000.

Now, her dentist is at least ethical and professional about this whole thing. He admitted the procedure didn't go too well and offered to even pay for the alternative procedure. Many dentist would just cover up the tooth and blame it on the patient years later.

I suggest you take this offer and pay for the crown and abutment minus the root canal fee.

Legally, he has every right to charge $400 for that botched RCT. Also he does not have to pay for her Implants.
His reasoning would be that it was a difficult root canal with complication needing extraction.
Don't even bother with a lawyer as they won't even take small cases like this one and this case will get tossed out the first day it gets presented in court.

oopsz said: jrtang said: She's a full-time nursing student and can't afford a lawyer. She's not really one to sue for the sake of suing and really just doesn't want to pay more than she's obligated to. That's why I'm posting here. In a botched procedure, what is the the party at fault generally liable for? What is the victim obligated to pay?

A "botched procedure" is also known as malpractice. If you had called lawyers in your area, I'm sure you could have found one to give you a free consult, and they would have detailed your rights. Instead, you took his terms. Basically, you've already settled- in lieu of suing him, he's given you lots of free dental work.

If you had sued him, his malpractice insurance would have paid the claim, but it seems to me the dentist decided giving you free dental work was cheaper than his insurance rates going up. At this point, I don't think you're entitled to anything more than what you've got, because that's what you agreed to. You don't have anything left to bargain with.

(This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. Etc.)


ABSOLUTELY WRONG ADVICE
Botched procedure is not necessarily malpractice. Malpractice is when one knowingly caused a harmful damage without informing the patient. This dentist did everything RIGHT (except the procedure) by the book. This case will not even get reviewed by the boards/court.

The dentist is asking her to pay for the crown that goes on top of the implant, because she would have had to pay for a crown that goes on top of a root canal anyway. Same price. Implants are a more predictable treatment option than root canal. I think she's getting a pretty good deal.

If she goes the lawsuit route, she will have to pay for a lawyer and spend a lot of time in court. After all that, she may not even win. Don't forget that the dentist probably has malpractice insurance and his own lawyers ready. Choose your battles wisely.

oopsz said: jrtang said: She's a full-time nursing student and can't afford a lawyer. She's not really one to sue for the sake of suing and really just doesn't want to pay more than she's obligated to. That's why I'm posting here. In a botched procedure, what is the the party at fault generally liable for? What is the victim obligated to pay?

A "botched procedure" is also known as malpractice. If you had called lawyers in your area, I'm sure you could have found one to give you a free consult, and they would have detailed your rights. Instead, you took his terms. Basically, you've already settled- in lieu of suing him, he's given you lots of free dental work.

If you had sued him, his malpractice insurance would have paid the claim, but it seems to me the dentist decided giving you free dental work was cheaper than his insurance rates going up. At this point, I don't think you're entitled to anything more than what you've got, because that's what you agreed to. You don't have anything left to bargain with.

(This is not legal advice. I am not your lawyer. Etc.)


Another wrong advice here.
The dentist's malpractice insurance would NOT pay this claim. Typically and always, it gets reviewed by the local dental boards, and the dentist, himself has the right to either settle or proceed with a long court battle.

Pun said: Botched procedure is not necessarily malpractice. Malpractice is when one knowingly caused a harmful damage without informing the patient. This dentist did everything RIGHT (except the procedure) by the book. This case will not even get reviewed by the boards/court.You honestly think it doesn't matter how badly the professional does his job as long as he tells the patient afterwards?

This was a bad outcome. A bad outcome isn't necessarily malpractice. But if it was caused by the dentist not meeting the applicable standard of care -- so that a professional dentist doing his job as well as the patient was entitled to expect would have had a successful procedure -- then it's malpractice.

LH2004 said: Pun said: Botched procedure is not necessarily malpractice. Malpractice is when one knowingly caused a harmful damage without informing the patient. This dentist did everything RIGHT (except the procedure) by the book. This case will not even get reviewed by the boards/court.You honestly think it doesn't matter how badly the professional does his job as long as he tells the patient afterwards?

This was a bad outcome. A bad outcome isn't necessarily malpractice. But if it was caused by the dentist not meeting the applicable standard of care -- so that a professional dentist doing his job as well as the patient was entitled to expect would have had a successful procedure -- then it's malpractice.


Yes, we both agree that a bad outcome isn't necessarily malpractice. But it is impossible to prove that this has met the std of care. RCT is not just drill and fill. Many RCT gets reinfected needing further procedures and limited access to its canals would further complicate the outcome. There are many factors that govern the success of the procedure.

Just to clear up some confusion about the pricing/procedures:

- $400 for the root canal is a slightly discounted price for students at the local state college.
- On top of the $400 for the root canal, she would have had to pay ~$500 for the crown = ~$900 Total

- Total costs of the dental implant including consults, procedures and follow-ups are well over $2000
- The cost of the actual fake tooth to be implanted is ~$600-$700

She's already paid the $400, but did not paid the ~$500 for the crown since it wasn't needed due to the unsuccessful root canal. The dentist paid the ~$2000+ for all of the procedures for the implanted tooth, but wants her to pay the ~$600-$700 for the tooth, because he thinks they are similarly priced.

His reasoning just doesn't make sense to me. We don't really have a problem paying for the original $400, but it doesn't make sense for him to factor in the cost of the $500 crown since he botched the procedure and she ended up not needng at anyway.

Thank you guys for all the replies.

Seems a bit late to be re-negotiating after he has performed all the implant related procedures for free.

If I were you, I would ask him to minus the rootcanal fee.
Root was replaced by the implant.
Crown was needed on her original treatment plan anyways, so he is asking her to incur that cost. I

It would be interesting to see this letter the dentist sent to your GF admitting fault.

Your GF may wish to submit a letter to her dentist outlining in detail everything that's happened since her first visit last year; quoting his admission of liability from the letter; listing what she would have been responsible for paying had the procedure not been botched; and requesting that he pay for every cost associated beyond that.

From your posts, it sounds like he has tried to do right by your GF after botching the procedure and it doesn't sound like your GF has addressed the additional financial issues you've outlined. Perhaps he will agree to her request(s) without this going any further.

turtlebug said: It would be interesting to see this letter the dentist sent to your GF admitting fault.

Your GF may wish to submit a letter to her dentist outlining in detail everything that's happened since her first visit last year; quoting his admission of liability from the letter; listing what she would have been responsible for paying had the procedure not been botched; and requesting that he pay for every cost associated beyond that.

From your posts, it sounds like he has tried to do right by your GF after botching the procedure and it doesn't sound like your GF has addressed the additional financial issues you've outlined. Perhaps he will agree to her request(s) without this going any further.


That's a good suggestion but anyone with a pea size brain would not send such letter to his GF.
You bring up an excellent point though. Since the dentist DID pay for the alternative procedure, this admits his wrong doing, admitting guilt. If he had not, then OP's gf would have not case.

If your GF has no plan to return after the Crown is cemented, ask the dentist that he is at fault and admission upon alt treatment paid.

jrtang said: Just to clear up some confusion about the pricing/procedures:

- $400 for the root canal is a slightly discounted price for students at the local state college.
- On top of the $400 for the root canal, she would have had to pay ~$500 for the crown = ~$900 Total

- Total costs of the dental implant including consults, procedures and follow-ups are well over $2000
- The cost of the actual fake tooth to be implanted is ~$600-$700

She's already paid the $400, but did not paid the ~$500 for the crown since it wasn't needed due to the unsuccessful root canal. The dentist paid the ~$2000+ for all of the procedures for the implanted tooth, but wants her to pay the ~$600-$700 for the tooth, because he thinks they are similarly priced.

His reasoning just doesn't make sense to me. We don't really have a problem paying for the original $400, but it doesn't make sense for him to factor in the cost of the $500 crown since he botched the procedure and she ended up not needng at anyway.

Thank you guys for all the replies.


His reasoning is that due to his mistake, he has had to put $2000+ of his own money in fixing the problem. He would at least like to have been paid what he was supposed to get for the original procedure.

It sounds like the dentist is trying to be reasonable. In the end your gf would have paid about $900, but now he is asking for $1100 (400+700 for the tooth). Why don't you just offer to pay the original amount of $900? You would put in another $500 yes but you already have gotten a really good price for all services regardless. Yes, he screwed up - but he also is trying to fix his mistake and has put alot of time and money to help your gf out.

Pun said: turtlebug said: It would be interesting to see this letter the dentist sent to your GF admitting fault.

Your GF may wish to submit a letter to her dentist outlining in detail everything that's happened since her first visit last year; quoting his admission of liability from the letter; listing what she would have been responsible for paying had the procedure not been botched; and requesting that he pay for every cost associated beyond that.

From your posts, it sounds like he has tried to do right by your GF after botching the procedure and it doesn't sound like your GF has addressed the additional financial issues you've outlined. Perhaps he will agree to her request(s) without this going any further.


That's a good suggestion but anyone with a pea size brain would not send such letter to his GF.
You bring up an excellent point though. Since the dentist DID pay for the alternative procedure, this admits his wrong doing, admitting guilt. If he had not, then OP's gf would have not case.

If your GF has no plan to return after the Crown is cemented, ask the dentist that he is at fault and admission upon alt treatment paid.


I was addressing the letter the OP said the dentist already gave his GF which explained the complications and admitted fault.

jrtang said: Just to clear up some confusion about the pricing/procedures:

- $400 for the root canal is a slightly discounted price for students at the local state college.
- On top of the $400 for the root canal, she would have had to pay ~$500 for the crown = ~$900 Total

- Total costs of the dental implant including consults, procedures and follow-ups are well over $2000
- The cost of the actual fake tooth to be implanted is ~$600-$700

She's already paid the $400, but did not paid the ~$500 for the crown since it wasn't needed due to the unsuccessful root canal. The dentist paid the ~$2000+ for all of the procedures for the implanted tooth, but wants her to pay the ~$600-$700 for the tooth, because he thinks they are similarly priced.

His reasoning just doesn't make sense to me. We don't really have a problem paying for the original $400, but it doesn't make sense for him to factor in the cost of the $500 crown since he botched the procedure and she ended up not needng at anyway.

Thank you guys for all the replies.


I think the dentist is saying her cost would have been 900, had everything gone right (400 for procedure, 500 for the crown). Her cost now will be ~ 1100 (400 for botched procedure, then 200 more than the crown cost for the implant). She isn't PAYING for the crown though, right? He is just COMPARING the implant cost VS the crown cost.

If so, I think the dentist has been fair. Even though it is costing here 200 more than originally expected, she ended up getting a $2000 implant for only 900. He could have admitted nothing, and she could have had more serious problems in the future, costing her thousands.

My dentist makes you sign a sheet before the root canal that says you understand that it's not guaranteed to work, etc. If that was the case, I would say she is lucky he admitted it and is paying for the fix, instead of just pointing to the waiver and saying she's SOL.

Technologist said: I think the dentist is saying her cost would have been 900, had everything gone right (400 for procedure, 500 for the crown). Her cost now will be ~ 1100 (400 for botched procedure, then 200 more than the crown cost for the implant). She isn't PAYING for the crown though, right? He is just COMPARING the implant cost VS the crown cost.

That's exactly correct.

I would not want this dentist to do an implant on me. If he messed up a root canal it is likely he will mess up an implant. I would pay this dentist nothing and get all further work done elsewhere. (but, of course, I have more money than a poor student.)

but the implant was already placed in by another dental surgeon. He can't possibly botch an impression that is needed for the crown.

jrtang said:

He is paying for the procedures and the costs associated with it:
Consultations, Followups, the procedure to put in the anchor/screw

He wants her to pay for: the actual tooth that will be put in
Ok, so he want your gf to the crown and the abutment.

If you ask me, that's quite a deal. She was going to pay for a crown anyway and now she got a $400 implant (usually $2500+). IMO, he is quite fair.

I can't believe this hasn't been asked.

pics of g/f?

good question.


Girlfriend
Disclaimer
Obama4Prez said: I can't believe this hasn't been asked.

pics of g/f?


here she is...

ZenNUTS said: If you ask me, that's quite a deal. She was going to pay for a crown anyway and now she got a $400 implant (usually $2500+). IMO, he is quite fair.

Yes, and for a young person the implant is definitely better than a bridge. Implants last forever, but bridges will need to be re-worked after 10 to 20 years.

Obama4Prez said: I can't believe this hasn't been asked.

pics of g/f?
Ask and ye shall receive.

Skipping 50 Messages...
BrlDsguise said:
So a doctor cannot unknowingly commit malpractice by not being careful enough?


There are many "negatives" in that above statement (I think 4), and it is confusing.

I think you are asking, "Can a doctor commit malpractice by being careless? (the dentist unknowingly that he wasn't being careful enough can be interpreted as being careless [I think])."

The answer to your hypothetical question is obviously YES, but we don't KNOW if he was being careless (negligence).

But a hypothetical explaination for what happened can be Dentist offered standard of care treatment (root canal). It was a complicated procedure (in any dentist's hands), perhaps due to atypical anatomy. Patient had a complication as a result (complication that was within reasonable possible complications). Dentist feels bad about the whole situation and tries to offer some compensation. In this hypothetical explaination, the criteria of malpractice are not fulfilled (particularly the negligence part).



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