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Root canal performed on wrong tooth

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Kevin Allan today released a report finding a dentist in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failing to correctly identify a tooth for root canal treatment.

A woman saw a dentist for treatment of inflamed gums, pus between her lower two front teeth, and pain. The dentist diagnosed tooth 41 with inflammation at the tip of the tooth root and acute infection. The dentist gave the woman the options of root canal treatment or extraction. The woman decided to proceed with root canal treatment.

When performing the procedure, the dentist performed the root canal treatment on tooth 31 rather than tooth 41.

When reviewing the radiographs after the procedure, the dentist realised that he had performed the root canal treatment on the wrong tooth. He immediately informed the woman of the error, apologised, and advised her that regrettably tooth 41 still required treatment based on the original diagnosis.

Mr Allan considered that by failing to isolate the correct tooth for the root canal treatment, the dentist did not provide services with reasonable care and skill. Mr Allan noted the dentist took appropriate action after the error was identified.

Mr Allan recommended the dentist apologise for his breach of the Code. He also recommended the dentist participate in relevant training.

The full report for case 18HDC01472 is available on the HDC website.


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