October 16, 2012 -- A New York jury has awarded $9.8 million in a malpractice lawsuit filed in March of this year by a man who was hospitalized following a third-molar extraction that went badly.
The patient's dentist and oral surgeon were found liable for his injuries and for failing to obtain informed consent, according to a press release from Meagher & Meagher, the law firm that represented the patient.
The patient, Harold Hagins, first went to White Plains, NY, dentist William Moody, DDS, in January 2007, complaining of a toothache. A few days later, Dr. Moody removed two-thirds of the crown but stopped the extraction when Hagins told him that the tooth was ankylosed, he told DrBicuspid.com. Dr. Moody said he advised Hagins to go to the White Plains Hospital to have the procedure completed by an oral surgeon.
"He had been told by several oral surgeons through his lifetime that the tooth need to be checked, but he didn't disclose that information about his history. Once he said that, I told him to go to the hospital to have the extraction completed." Dr. Moody said.
Hagins went to the emergency room at White Plains Hospital, then transferred to Westchester County Medical Center, where he was admitted under the care of Michael C. Miller, DDS, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Briarcliff Manor, NY, according to court documents.
Dr. Miller diagnosed Hagins as suffering from subcutaneous air emphysema and having residual roots from the extraction, according to Meagher & Meagher.
After Hagins spent four days in the hospital, Dr. Miller extracted the remaining roots from his tooth. He sustained permanent neurological injuries and "broken jaw syndrome," Hagins' lawyers noted.
A month later, Hagins was still experiencing extreme oral pain, numbness, and a lack of feeling in his mouth and went to New York University's dental clinic, according to court documents. An oral surgeon there diagnosed him as having "V3 neuropraxia and lingual nerve transection." He was then referred to Bellevue Hospital for a CT scan of his left mandible, which revealed a "vertically oriented fracture extending from the base of the tooth extraction through the outer table of the mandible along its buccal aspect" and had lingual nerve exploration surgery there, according to court documents.
Four months later, Hagins went to neurologist Michael Weintraub, MD, who referred him to neurosurgeon Alain de Lotbiniere, MD, who diagnosed him with post-traumatic trigeminal neuropathy, according to court documents.
Hagins still suffers from extreme oral pain, headaches, and numbness, and has not worked as a hydrogeologist since being treated by Dr. Moody, his lawyers noted. In court documents, he said he wouldn't have had the tooth extracted if he had known about the risk of neurologic injury.
On October 3, 2012, a jury in the Supreme Court of Westchester County unanimously found Drs. Moody and Miller equally liable for Hagins' injuries and for failing to obtain his informed consent for the treatments.
Dr. Miller did not return calls seeking comment.