Increase in Value of Negligent Dentistry Claims Seen

The DDU has revealed that the number of six-figure claims for compensation made against its members has increased dramatically in the last ten years.

The Dental Defence Union-not unMedical Defence Union, and is an organisation that provides indemnity and legal support for its members when claims for negligent dentistry are made against them. The organisation has recently claimed that there has been a substantial increase in the volume of claims being resolved in excess of £100,000 in the past ten years.

Since 2006 – a year in which only two were settled for amounts in excess of £100,000 – the DDU has paid almost £5 million in six-figure settlements; with £1.1 million compensation for negligent dentistry being paid out in 2015 alone. In the period which was investigated, the highest settlement of the eleven six-figure settlements was for the failure to diagnose and treat periodontal disease leading to tooth loss in the victim.

The head of the DDU-John Makin-has aired his concerns that the increasing number of claims and the escalating settlements of compensation for negligent dentistry are making indemnity more expensive for individual dental practitioners. “We are seeing disturbing rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims and a surge of claims exceeding £100,000 against our dental members,” he said.

Makin cites rising patient expectations and aggressive marketing by medical negligence solicitors as contributory causes in the increased number of six-figure settlements of compensation for negligent dentistry. He listed common allegations made by patients in 2015 as implants or cosmetic treatments that were unsatisfactory, excessive, or where the final appearance was not as expected.

However, critics have commented that Makin´s remarks are misleading. One contributor to dentistry.co.uk argued that it was it was within the patient’s rights to expect a high standard of treatment from dentists, and expect dentists to put things right when they go wrong – or pay compensation for negligent dentistry.

The contributor also criticised the DDU´s head for blaming solicitors for the bigger compensation settlements. He commented that if there were no solicitors, the negligent dentists would be getting away with misdiagnosing gum disease and tooth decay. He added that if the DDU were to admit liability for their members´ faults at an earlier stage – rather than defend indefensible claims – the DDU´s legal costs would be much lower.