Preston woman calls for local dentist to be struck off
Specialist dental negligence solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership, is supporting a Lancashire woman in her campaign to have a Preston dentist struck off the UK dental register.
Alexandra Walkden, from Preston, who was a patient of Dr John Musgrave for nearly 30 years, recently won a legal action against the dentist for his gross incompetence in the handling of her treatment, dating all the way back to 1985. The case, which was successfully settled out of court for £35,000 following a two-year battle, was brought against Dr Musgrave after his patient, Mrs Walkden, was found to have suffered chronic dental neglect, while under his care.
Associate solicitor, Heather Owen at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “Alexandra’s case was one of long-term mistreatment, compounded by a string of failures by her dentist Dr Musgrave. He routinely failed to check the health of her teeth, screen for gum disease, remove decay or even carry out appropriate preventative care. At no point was the patient advised of alternative treatment options or referred to specialists when her oral health started to decline.”
As a result of Mrs Walkden’s poor treatment at the hands of Dr Musgrave, the 62-year-old woman was forced to undergo several years of painful remedial treatment, culminating in the extraction of 13 teeth, extensive dental surgery and the fitting of a permanent ‘bridge’, to replace those teeth lost to decay and gum disease. Two further teeth have since been given a short to medium-term prognosis due to extensive gum disease.
Alexandra said: “I felt utterly betrayed by Dr Musgrave when I found out the extent of the damage to my teeth and gums. I’ve worked hard all my life to pay for extra things in life like private dental insurance and have never missed a dentist appointment.
“I thought I was taking good care of my teeth and assumed that my dental insurer would have taken steps to screen its members. It was wrong to assume that my dentist’s inclusion on the insurance register was a quality guarantee. Dr Musgrave’s patients, both NHS and private, have a right to know about the appalling care I received and should strongly reconsider whether it’s safe to put their oral health in his hands.”
In October 2012 Alexandra instructed specialist dental negligence lawyers at the Dental Law Partnership to take up her case. Her claim was eventually settled out of court in December 2014, though Dr Musgrave did not admit liability.
Alexandra continued: “Compensation is not a ‘pay out’. No amount of money can compensate for having lost my teeth. The money I’ve received will be used to cover the thousands of pounds I have paid out of my own pocket for all the necessary remedial and cosmetic work. If I weren’t fortunate enough to have been able to fund my treatments while the case was being fought, I don’t know what state my mouth would be in right now.”
With the help of the Dental Law Partnership, Mrs Walkden is now appealing to the General Dental Council for further action to be taken against the negligent dentist. “Dr Musgrave has ruined my life and should not be given the opportunity to do the same to another of his patients”, she added.
Ms Alexandra Walkden
“In 2012, my partner and I were on holiday in Yorkshire when I discovered that I had a loose crown. Not wanting to cut the holiday short and go back home for treatment, I contacted my dental insurers who arranged an appointment with a local dentist to arrange a temporary repair.
“I’ve been for regular check-ups at my dentist in Preston for the last 26 years and have diligently brushed my teeth every morning and evening, so I didn’t think I had anything to worry about as I sat down in the dentist’s chair. After five minutes however, it was apparent something was terribly wrong. The emergency dentist was clearly concerned, and asked me ‘when was the last time I’d seen a dentist?’ He told me I had long-term gum disease and my teeth were rotting. The news came out of the blue and was a complete shock to me.
“We rushed back to Preston and sought the advice of the specialist at the UCLAN Dental Clinic, who confirmed what I’d been told by the Yorkshire dentist – my teeth were irreparably damaged and I would need several procedures to halt the chronic disease. I lost almost all of my top teeth as well as some on the bottom – 13 in all. X-rays were taken and found that I had the highest category gum disease and teeth root fractures; the prognosis wasn’t great.
“It’s hard for someone to imagine how it feels to be told you will lose all your teeth. I broke down in floods of tears, distraught at the thought of losing my teeth, of never smiling again. I felt physically sick at the state of my mouth, my confidence was shattered, which, of course, had a negative impact on my relationship.
“In November 2012, treatment started with the extraction of all but four teeth on the top and placement of a temporary partial denture. By the time I got out of surgery, I looked like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn’t eat or speak properly for months, my tongue had to get used to forming words around the new dentures; my sense of smell was affected; everything tasted metallic. I didn’t want to go out as I felt so embarrassed wearing dentures.
“Because of the severity of the damage, I was sent to a specialist for further X-rays and bone density scans to see if I was suitable for dental implants to help correct my smile. I was eventually scheduled for surgery in 2013. To fit the implants and a temporary bridge, my remaining four teeth were removed. Metal Implants were drilled into my jaw bone so a temporary bridge could be placed until the implants and bone had fused together and healed. Again, after surgery I looked horrendous. Over the next six months, and many visits to the dentists for x-rays and measurements, the final custom bridge was made and permanently attached to the implants.
“I have since undergone more surgery for a bone graft and an implant to my bottom set of teeth. Over two years later, the damage has been repaired as well as can be expected, but my oral health is still very delicate. I have to brush a minimum of three times a day and visit my dentist every four months. I’ll never get my natural teeth back, or be able to undo the years of suffering I’ve had to undergo trying to fix the negligence of Dr John Musgrave, but I can help others avoid having to go through something similar. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that Dr Musgrave should not be practicing.”