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Volume 19 , Issue 3
May/June 2004

Pages 382386

Implant Dentistry at the Focus of Liability Lawsuits

Ludger Figgener, MD, DMD, PhD/Johannes Kleinheinz, MD, DMD, PhD

PMID: 15214222

Purpose: In recent years, the growing readiness on the part of dental patients to take legal action has resulted in an increasing number of medical liability lawsuits. The aim of this retrospective analysis was to highlight aspects of these lawsuits of special significance, to subject them to both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and to show how conflicts can be avoided. Materials and Methods: Forty relevant court decisions from the year 1984 onwards were found in online databases and through direct inquiries at the courts. These were supplemented by 21 reports prepared by experts at the University of Muenster, Department of Dental Medicine, commissioned by courts in connection with ongoing lawsuits. Analysis was initially based on formal aspects of the cases and reports. It was later supplemented by differentiated assignment of the questions addressed by the courts to the expert consultants. The principles underlying the judgments as to the liability arising from the terms of the contract were also assigned to the expert consultants in a differentiated manner. Results: The results revealed marked differences in the frequency of liability-prone aspects of treatment. While the majority of judgments referred to the obligation to take due care during the preparatory and treatment phases, infringement of the obligations to provide information and to keep records played more than a minor role. Moreover, 90% of all cases represented combined charges covering various aspects, including those related to consequential failings. Discussion and Conclusion: The detailed qualitative analysis of the grounds quoted and of the lines of reasoning can therefore be summed up in clearly defined recommendations aimed at helping the clinician avoid conflicts by observing the judicial requirements. INT J ORAL MAXILLOFAC IMPLANTS 2004;19:382386

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