Dentists told to apologise after woman ends up in hospital

Two dentists have been told to sharpen up and apologise to a woman who wound up in intensive care with an infected wisdom tooth socket.

A decision released today by the Health and Disability Commissioner says the woman had pain and visited the dental service four times after having her wisdom tooth removed at the practice.

She was diagnosed as having a dry socket and prescribed an antibiotic. However, the report says the dentist “failed to recognise that the woman’s presenting complication was an infection, and not a dry socket”.

She also was not given the appropriate treatment for a dry socket, and not initially told she had an infection, it says.

A dentist discussed another antibiotic she was taking that the clinic didn’t prescribe, but didn’t tell her to stop taking it.

She later spent two nights in intensive care where an operation was performed to drain the infection.

The commissioner said both dentists should have further training.

It also found the dental practice had poor record-keeping and poor systems for finding out about other medications being taken by clients. The commissioner recommended the service develop stronger policies and said it would be audited to ensure it had improved its record-keeping.

The report did not identify the dentists or the practice.

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