The practice of dentistry is complex and is becoming more so as we proceed into the 21st century. As new products and procedures become a part of everyday practice, professional liability exposure also increases. Studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, have shown that healthcare professionals who are sued for malpractice may suffer significant emotional-and even physical-effects, whether the lawsuit is meritorious or not. Knowledge is power, and the dentist who becomes familiar with the malpractice litigation process, as well as the potential effects of involvement, is more likely to be able to cope during this stressful time.
Although this website was originally established for physicians who have been sued, it is increasingly clear that members of the dental profession experience similar reactions to the experience. The process of litigation is not a life experience that affects only a small number of dental professionals. The National Practitioner Data Bank notes that as of 2016, among the 19,755 dentists in the United States, there were 16,337 paid claims on behalf of dentists between 2006 and 2016. This number does not reflect the number of claims that were made but rather only those that resulted in a payment. Many more claims were made that were later dropped or disappeared for a host of reasons. From the beginning, we have learned repeatedly that the emotional impact and assaultive nature of the experience is related not to the final outcome of the case but rather to the accusation of having failed to meet the standard of care.
Yet our review of the literature reveals few articles on the subject that are specifically addressed to dentists. We have included those that seem relevant in the bibliography on our website. Although there are support programs developed for physicians, we are unaware of similar programs established for dentists.
This website is designed to help medical practitioners help themselves as best they can during what can be a life-changing experience. We would like to welcome members of the dental profession to share in what we have learned and look forward to receiving suggestions they may offer to enhance their experience.