Dentists and the Impact of Malpractice Suits

Statistics show that most dentists will be involved in at least one lawsuit alleging dental malpractice sometime during their career. The National Practitioner Data Bank for the years 2006-2016, for example, reports that among the 19,755 dentists in the United States, there were 16,337 medical malpractice payments and 13,772 adverse actions (formal reports not related to medical malpractice) filed against them. Among the 3,131 dental hygienists, there were 49 medical malpractice payments and 3,676 adverse action reports. These medical malpractice reports represent only those that are paid claims. There are many more claims filed against these individuals that result in no payment to the plaintiff and, therefore, are not reportable. Nonetheless, while a medical malpractice action is infrequent, it can be emotionally devastating to a dentist of any age, race or gender.

A previous (unpublished) study showed that when a dentist was sued for malpractice, he or she was more than five times more likely to have another suit-producing event during the following year. It is postulated that a likely factor contributing to this second event is the stress associated with involvement in the dental malpractice litigation process, what is commonly known as litigation stress.

Coping with litigation stress begins with recognizing its subtle but oftentimes pernicious effects on one's ability to concentrate, communicate and cope with the normal events occurring in one's personal and professional life. Unfortunately, litigation stress has been largely unrecognized in the dental community.

This website is dedicated to helping healthcare providers of all stripes recognize, appropriately cope with, and, ultimately, survive the mental and emotional challenges which can accompany litigation stress.

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