Purpose: In recent years, dental malpractice claims have increased dramatically worldwide. The present study aimed to categorise and analyse claims related to implant dentistry that resulted in legal decisions in Israel, seeking to contribute to dental risk management and improve patient safety.
Keywords: implants, injury, lawsuit, malpractice
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest relating to this study.
Materials and methods: This study analysed legal claims registered by Medical Consultants International between 2005 and 2015. Only closed cases in which a decision was made were included. The parameters studied included patient age and sex, date of the complaint, treatment setting (private/public clinic), description of the adverse event and type of negligence claimed.
Results: The cohort included 709 settled claims out of a total of 1066 that were litigated against dental practitioners in Israel during the study period. Of the patients included, 60.0% were women and 63.9% were aged 40 to 59 years. The most common treatment-related damage was neural injury in 133 patients (18.7% of the cohort). Unplanned changes in the treatment plan and violation of autonomy were the most frequent documentation-/information-related claims (66.3% and 32.7%, respectively). The legal responsibility of the dental practitioner was acknowledged in 89.0% of cases. Dental practitioners working in the private sector were more likely to be sued due to violation of autonomy than those working in public clinics.
Conclusions: Although the main cause for lawsuits was actual bodily injury, the high percentage of documentation-/information-related malpractice claims calls for increased awareness of patients’ autonomy and rights. Practitioners should dedicate a significant part of the entire treatment time to preoperative diagnosis and planning.