Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants 17 (2002), No. 2 15. Apr. 2002
Purpose: To categorize and review complications related to implant dentistry that have resulted in legal actions.
Materials and Methods: The records of 61 patients (39 women and 22 men) were retrospectively evaluated according to a structured form. Ages ranged from 28 years to 78 years (mean 49 ± 12 years). The time lag in months between actual damage and legal action ranged from 0 months to 60 months (mean 12.7 months).
Results: Implant type, length, width, and locations varied widely and had no impact on the liability report. Half of the lawsuits were filed as a result of actual body damage (loss of sensation, oroantral fistula, life-threatening bleeding); 35% of the lawsuits were filed because of late complications; and 15% were related to immediate complications not leading to actual body damage. The dental consultants acknowledged liability in 41 of 61 cases. The clinician's errors that led to the reported complication were classified as preoperative in 39 of 41 cases. The doctor's attitude was considered positive in 40 cases and negative in 17 cases.
Discussion and Conclusions: Clinicians should report as soon as possible to their insurance companies to get professional help. The main causes for lawsuits are actual body injury and major disappointment. Practitioners should dedicate a significant part of the entire treatment time to preoperative diagnosis and planning.
Keywords: dental implants, injury, lawsuit, malpractice