Failure to refer patient to maxillofacial surgeon

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Recent Cases: Dentistry

May/June 2013, Volume 28, No. 3

Failure to refer patient to maxillofacial surgeon 

Hagins v. Miller, No. 215/2011 (N.Y., Westchester Co. Sup. Oct. 3, 2012).

Harold Hagans, 42, consulted general dentist William Moody, complaining of a toothache. Moody tried three times to remove Hagans’s lower wisdom tooth; however, these attempts were unsuccessful because the tooth’s roots were fused together. A few hours after returning home, Hagans was admitted to a hospital. Oral surgeon Michael Miller diagnosed air emphysema and residual wisdom tooth roots, and subsequently removed the remaining roots. About four weeks later, Hagans was diagnosed as having a transected lingual nerve and a mandibular fracture.

Hagans suffered chronic pain, necessitating implantation of a motor cortex stimulator in his brain. A contract engineer earning about $75,000 annually, he has not returned to work.

Hagans sued Moody and Miller, alleging failure to timely refer him to a maxillofacial surgeon. Suit also charged that Miller had severed the lingual nerve.

The jury awarded about $7.66 million.

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Christopher Meagher and Merryl Weiner, both of White Plains, N.Y.


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