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A Journal on Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Odontostomatology and Maxillofacial Surgery
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Minerva Stomatologica 2008 July-August;57(7-8):349-57

language: English, Italian

Professional liability and structure of litigation in dentistry

Montagna F. 1, Manfredini D. 2, Nuzzolese E. 3

1 Department of Oral and Dental Diseases and Orthodontics University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 Department of Maxillofacial Surgery University of Padua, Padua, Italy
3 Forensic Odontologist, Bari, Italy


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This study analyses 101 medico-legal consultations issued in cases of professional liability in dentistry in Italy. The aim was to review professional liability lawsuits against dentists and compare them with previous statistical analyses relating to the past ten years. The results confirm most data from previous dental litigation studies and are comparable to previous studies also for what concerns the type of accident, the assessment of bodily harm, and other adjunctive items (role of insurance and demographics): increased use of dental prostheses (70%) associated with endodontic injury and implant failures in half of the cases; recurrence of a limited number of errors specific for each branch of dentistry; increased defeats in judicial proceedings by medical providers (90%); joint liability in 10% of cases; frequent recourse to judicial proceedings (40%); fewer extrajudicial settlements by insurance companies (25%); predominance of male dentists (mean age 50 years) and middle aged female patients (75%); decreased amounts of damages for bodily harm. The amount of the resultant costs of revision procedures and services required to repair harm have been estimated at € 17 757,00 per accident, with a considerable increase of Lire 6 500 000 (~€ 3 356,97) in 1998 (178 cases settled by insurance companies) and € 6 539,00 in the period 1998-2004 (75 medico-legal decisions).

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