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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Kevin Allan today released a report finding a dentist and a dental service company in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failures in the treatment of a woman suffering an infection after having her wisdom tooth extracted.
The dentist extracted the woman’s wisdom tooth. In the days following, the woman developed a painful mouth and visited the dental service on three occasions to discuss her symptoms. She also began taking an antibiotic not prescribed by the dental clinic, that she had obtained overseas. At the third visit, the dentist diagnosed a dry socket and prescribed a course of the antibiotic amoxicillin, and discussed with the woman the other antibiotic she was taking.
Three days later, another dentist at the dental service reviewed the woman, cleaned the socket of her recently extracted tooth and advised her that her infection was improving and that she should complete her course of antibiotics.
Following this, the woman’s infection worsened. She was prescribed further antibiotics and admitted to hospital, where pus was drained from her socket and she was treated in the intensive care unit for two nights.
Deputy Commissioner Kevin Allan found that the dentist failed to recognise that the woman’s presenting complication was an infection and not a dry socket, did not provide appropriate treatment even if it was a dry socket, and missed an opportunity to recommend that she stop taking her own antibiotic and take amoxicillin instead. Mr Allan also considered the dentist failed to comply with the Dental Council’s documentation standards. He was critical of the second dentist for failing to investigate the antibiotics the woman was taking to treat her infection.
Mr Allan found that the dental service had inadequate policies for ascertaining the medications being taken by clients, and that poor record-keeping and missing records indicated broader systems issues at the practice.
“A patient who is taking self-prescribed medication is a significant ‘red flag’,” said Mr Allan. “Neither dentist ascertained what antibiotic [the woman] was taking. I am not satisfied that the dental service had adequate policies to deal with the situation when a patient is known to be taking medication that has not been prescribed by the practice to treat dental conditions.”
The Deputy Commissioner recommended that the dental service audit its clinical records and develop further policies on the management of patients who are taking medications not prescribed by the clinic. He also recommended that both dentists involved undertake further training, and that the dentists and the dental clinic apologise to the woman.
The full report for case 18HDC01168 is available on the HDC website.