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NEW FROM THE OMS GUARDIAN

DO YOU KNOW WHERE I LEFT MY KEYS?
R. Dean White, DDS, MS - Retired Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 11% of people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease. As you might guess, OMS are not exempt from this group of individuals. What begins as “Mild Cognitive Impairment” (MCI) may, at some point, progress to serious dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. So what does this “in-between” period look like for a practicing surgeon?

 

Consider this scenario for illustration: A woman presents to an OMS with a referral for extraction of tooth #2. A consent form is signed and the procedure takes place that day. Instead of extracting #2, the OMS inadvertently extracts (healthy) #3. He documents the extraction of #3, alongside the referral form which states the tooth that was supposed to be extracted was #2. The OMS offers to correct the problem with an implant at no charge. The patient, unhappy, leaves and never returns to the practice.

 

Several months later, the doctor receives a letter from the patient’s attorney, requesting compensation for the incident. During a meeting with defense counsel, a family member advises that the doctor is unable to participate in the defense because he cannot recall day-to-day encounters, let alone past encounters. Is this a case of a simple wrong tooth extraction, or was the error actually due to the cognitive impairment associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s?

 

 

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