Judgments: Dentist must educate himself about alternative methods of anesthesia

OLG Hamm speaks patient 4.00 Euro pain relief to
( jur).Dentists have to enlighten alternative methods of anesthesia. Otherwise, they may also be liable for the health effects of anesthesia in an error-free procedure, as the Oberlandesgericht( Higher Regional Court, Hamm) ruled in a judgment announced on Wednesday 18 May 2015( ref.: 26 U 199/15).

A "infiltration anesthesia" is commonly used in painful dental procedures on the upper jaw and a "lead anesthesia" is applied to the lower jaw. In both cases, the puncture occurs on the inside of the mouth in the vicinity of the affected tooth.

Image: Andrey Popov - fotolia Image: Andrey Popov - fotolia

Alternatively, "intraligamentary anesthesia" is used. The narcotic agent is injected into the fold between tooth and gum. When the pressure is sufficiently high, the agent reaches the tooth root, where it stuns the entering nerve fibers. This method is, however, only possible to a limited extent in the lateral incisors of the lower jaw.

In the case decided by OLG Hamm, a 31-year-old patient of a dentist in Bielefeld had pain in the lower jaw. Before the treatment, the dentist stunned the affected area as usual using lead anesthesia. The dentist did not discuss the possible alternative of intraligamentary anesthesia.

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days later the patient still had a deaf and tingling tongue. To his dentist he accused a faulty treatment. With the exception of her tip, his tongue was still deaf. Apparently, the dentist had damaged a tongue nerve. For this, the patient demanded a pain relief of 7,500 euros and further damages.

The OLG Hamm now gave him a pain of 4,000 euros. The Court of First Instance did not find any faulty treatment. Nerve injuries are also possible in the case of specialist line anesthesia.

However, the dentist neglected to enlighten his patient about the possibility of intraligamentary anesthesia. This was "a real alternative" here and already "belongs to the standard in outpatient dental practice".The dentist was informed about this and the patient had to leave the choice.

Without this explanation the consent of the patient into the lead anesthesia was ineffective and thus the whole treatment was illegal, the OLG decided in its judgment of 19 April 2016. The amount of the pain relief money it with only 4,000 euro fixed, because the numbness of the tonguehas now declined sharply.(mwo / fb)

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