Patient sues dentist for causing permanent nerve damage

Gavel Scale Justice

A patient filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pinellas County, FL, against a dentist and a dental practice, claiming a wisdom tooth extraction caused nerve damage that left him with permanent pain and loss of sensation in his tongue.

Joshua Harrison filed a lawsuit on June 21 against Dr. Abhishek Navanit and Smile Design Dentistry Fourth Street in St. Petersburg, FL, for severe dental negligence. Although another dentist performed technically successful surgery to repair Harrison’s lingual nerve anesthesia, Harrison continues to experience chronic pain and loss of sensation in his tongue, according to the lawsuit.

Due to his reported significant and permanent injury along with emotional and physical pain and suffering, Harrison is seeking compensatory damages for past and future medical expenses, as well as loss of capacity for enjoyment of life.

In June 2022, Harrison had wisdom tooth pain, so he went to Smile Design Dentistry. A month later, Navanit performed his wisdom tooth extraction, using a dental elevator and forceps to extract tooth #17.

In Harrison’s chart, Navanit reportedly wrote that the extraction was completed without complications, and the patient had tolerated the procedure well. Harrison was discharged with prescriptions for an antibiotic and pain reliever.

After the anesthesia from the procedure wore off, Harrison purportedly continued to have persistent numbness and pain. This led him to make follow-up visits to Smile Design between July and December 2022 during which he complained of neurological deficits and symptoms, according to the suit.

Another dentist at Smile Design allegedly told Harrison that his symptoms would resolve; however, he continued to have significant discomfort and a lack of sensation, according to the suit.

Frustrated by his lack of improvement, he went to Dr. Neel Patel at HCA Florida Mercy Hospital in Miami in June 2023. There, he was diagnosed with left lingual nerve anesthesia, and it was recommended that he undergo exploratory surgery to repair his nerve damage.

During the procedure, Patel reported that Harrison’s left lingual nerve to be “completely transected with retraction of the proximal segment,” which was encased in a neuroma measuring 1 cm x 7 mm. The distal nerve segment was encased in a neuroma measuring 5 mm x 5 mm, according to the suit.

In August 2023, Patel retrieved the cut nerve segments and surgically removed the neuromas by cutting back the damaged nerve segments and bridging the nerve segments with an artificial nerve graft.

Although the procedure was technically successful, Harrison continues to experience anesthesia and dysesthesia in his tongue.

In the lawsuit, Harrison alleges that Navanit failed to consider alternative treatment options or techniques that could have prevented damage to his lingual nerve. Furthermore, the suit states that Navanit failed to adequately protect the right lingual nerve during surgery and didn’t control his dental instruments within the intended surgical field.

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