LeeAnn Rimes Sues Dentist for Medical Malpractice

In the lawsuit, country singer LeeAnn Rimes is arguing that her dentist caused her permanent cosmetic deficiencies from his many mistakes, affecting her ability to perform and causing her to cancel several shows. Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are highlighting this story because dental negligence is often overlooked in malpractice law, although it can cause significant pain and suffering.

The singer is suing Dr. Duane C. McKay for the work he performed on her between December 2009 and April 2012, claiming he misdiagnosed her dental issues and conducted substandard care. In the initial incident, Dr. McKay allegedly gave her veneers that were the wrong shape, size and color, which he later substituted with crowns. The crowns caused her severe tooth pain, chronic gum bleeding, and gum inflammation, and eventually required emergency extraction.

Rimes needed all eight crowns removed, along with one tooth extraction, bone grafting, and nine root canals, which were all caused by the defective crowns. She is now seeking undisclosed compensation for emotional and psychological damage, pain and suffering, medical bills, and loss in earnings. The singer was forced to cancel numerous performances in the summer of 2012 in order to undergo emergency root canals.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. McKay told the singer that, through his work, pain in her Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) would subside, leading to the initial surgery. Many people suffer pain in this area, which is the sliding hinge connecting the jawbone to the skull. TMJ injuries can manifest through pain in the jaw, around the ear, and difficulty chewing. Most dentists recommend treating TMJ with nonsurgical treatments or pharmaceuticals. It is unclear what the motivation behind recommending surgery for Rimes was.

Dentists can be sued for substandard and negligent care just like medical doctors, nurses and hospitals can. Patients often suffer permanent and life-altering injuries from dental negligence – some have even died while in the dentist’s chair. This happens when dentists and nurses inadequately or inappropriately administer anesthesia. Many dentists put you under needlessly, in the guise of “pain-free procedures,” to increase profit margins.

In one such case, a six-year-old boy entered the Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic in 2010 to get crowns on some of his teeth. The dentist ordered the boy to be put under a general anesthetic, which rendered him unconscious for the entire procedure. The boy suffered an abnormal heartbeat as soon as his breathing tube was improperly removed, and because the dental team did not monitor his condition adequately, he was pronounced dead at a nearby medical center. His cause of death was due to a cardiac arrest, induced by the improper removal of a breathing tube.

His family brought a wrongful deal claim against the dentist’s office, alleging that the team failed to monitor the boy’s heart and respiratory conditions, vital signs, and oxygen saturation levels through the procedure. They eventually settled for $100,000.

Another child, this time a four-year-old girl, suffered a cardiac arrest in a similar dental incident. The girl survived the episode, but she will now suffer from permanent brain damage for the rest of her life. Her mother says she will never walk, talk, or eat on her own again. A general practitioner administered the girl’s anesthesia. This case illuminates the wide and dangerous discrepancy between dental anesthesiology and medical anesthesiology.

The risks of using general anesthesia are very real and potentially fatal. They can include allergic reactions, cardiovascular problems, respiratory depression, brain injury from lack of oxygen, stroke caused by embolism, and, ultimately, death. Unfortunately, most dentists’ offices are not properly equipped to deal with medical emergencies, should they arise.

Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn of the extreme dangers of general anesthesia during dental work. Unfortunately, many dentists perform unnecessary or substandard work solely to increase profit margins. If you or a loved one was seriously injured from dental malpractice, consider seeking legal guidance, as you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering.

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