If a dentist performs dental work that is sub-standard or that raises some concern for you, you can and should complain. There are also some circumstances where it may be appropriate to sue for medical negligence compensation.
Yes, but only when you have suffered a permanent and significant injury as a result of dental negligence.
You most likely cannot sue for the following common but unsatisfactory outcomes:
These types of complaints are better served by contacting the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC).
Injuries that have resulted in compensation are generally associated with permanent nerve damage, altered speech and/or taste, damaged bone structures or jaw deformity and ongoing disease or severe psychological trauma.
To succeed in a legal medical negligence claim against your dentist you will need to establish:
Robinson v Ng  ACTSC 227
During the course of an attempted molar extraction, part of the root of the tooth was pushed upwards through the roof of the mouth and was lodged in the sinus.
The plaintiff required remedial surgery and claimed damages arising out of those events, including a substantial claim for economic loss. Ms Robinson was awarded $808,114.
Paterno v Hookey  VSCA 48
A woman was left with severe ongoing pain following dental surgery to correct a malocclusion. The judge held that the surgery was carried out without due skill and care, and that the patient was not adequately warned of the risks.
The plaintiff required five corrective surgeries, and was left with permanent nerve damage. Damages were awarded in the sum of $1,057,833.
Health professionals are governed by a code of conduct and their practice and registration is regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
The code of conduct requires health providers to:
If a health professional breaches the above code of conduct, a complaint can be made to AHPRA by calling 1300 419 495 or by making a web enquiry at www.ahpra.gov.au.
AHPRA will investigate the complaint, and has the power to fine, suspend, limit or cancel a practitioner’s registration to practise by referring the practitioner to the Dental Board for formal review. They can also obtain an explanation and possibly an apology for what has occurred during your treatment.
The HCC is a government body who also deals with complaints about health service providers. They too address concerns regarding any breach of the code of conduct.
The HCC considers the various avenues to satisfy dissatisfied clients. The body is not just focused on monetary payouts but can also work towards obtaining refunds, advice and/or an explanation for what has occurred, allow access to denied health records, or possibly even obtaining an apology.
The HCC is a free service that can be contacted on 1300 582 133 or at https://hcc.vic.gov.au.
There are strict time limits that apply to bringing a legal claim so you should consult an expert medical negligence lawyer as soon as you discover that a permanent injury has occurred.
Adviceline Injury Lawyers act on a “No Win, No Fee” basis – meaning that if we proceed with a claim you will only have to pay our legal costs if you successfully receive compensation.
To book your free appointment, call our Adviceline on (03) 9321 9988. When you call you will speak directly with a lawyer, not a call centre.Go Back