Litigation In the National Health Service for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

An article appears in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery titled “Litigation in National Health Service oral and maxillofacial surgery: review of the last 15 years,” by A. Gulati et. al. (50, pages 385-388, 2012).

The authors state:

“Published data regarding litigation in other surgical specialties are plentiful, but to our knowledge there is little detailed analysis of claims within the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) despite information being freely available from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) under the Freedom of Information Act.”

The authors used data from April 1995 to August 2010 from the NHSLA. A total of 318 claims were registered during this 15 years. Claims have been increasing in recent years. Of these claims 253 were closed. A total of 137 claims (54%) resulted in compensation with the rest not being successful.

The authors state:

“Claims were made most commonly for perceived unnecessary pain postoperatively (generally not compensated), dentoalveolar damage (to adjacent tooth or removal of the wrong tooth), neurological deficit, or soft tissue injury.”

The findings were that

“The total amount of compensation for OMFS claims was £5 162 637; the mean successful claim was £36 488.”

The authors further state in the article

“Much of the dentoalveolar surgery is currently done by staff grades and associate specialists, many of whom have had the benefit of training or apprenticeship. The next generation may not have the same breadth of experience as their predecessors, which will, no doubt, place further pressure on consultants to provide a consultant-based service for more routine procedures.”

One should note that in this study 126 of the 137 successful claims (92%) resulted in an amount awarded of £50 000 or less. This amount seems to be significantly less than the amounts I have seen awarded in the U.S. as discussed over here Of course though this article addressed surgical care provided across the full scope of OMFS and not just third molar (wisdom teeth) extractions.

Leave a Comment