A Lancashire woman who was told that dental work she had received dating back to 2001 had been negligent has been awarded an out-of-court settlement of £9,000.
Dentists Dr Colin Cromie, Dr R Wellington and Dr Sheila Cromie agreed to pay the settlement after 26-year-old veterinary nurse, Samantha Lofthouse from Blackburn sought legal help from specialist dental negligence solicitors, Dental Law Partnership, after nearly 15 years of neglect left her with tooth decay and needing fillings, root canal treatments, and crowns.
Furthermore, X-rays revealed that pieces of dental file that were left lodged in her gum went seemingly unnoticed by one of the defendants, none of whom admitted liability for their actions.
Associate solicitor, Jonathan Owen at the Dental Law Partnership, said: “All three defendants failed to diagnose the onset of tooth decay and Dr Colin Cromie didn’t use the correct level of skill and care in the root canal treatments which were often avoidable.”
Miss Lofthouse had been seeing Dr Colin Cromie at the Accrington Road Dental Centre for regular dental check-ups since she was a little girl. In 2012, Dr Cromie moved to the Petre Dental Centre in Accrington, Miss Lofthouse remained at the Accrington Road Dental Centre under new dentist, Dr Wellington.
After several fillings by Dr Wellington between 2010 and 2012, Miss Lofthouse became unwell over the Christmas period and was forced to visit an emergency dentist. X-rays by the emergency dentist revealed three abscesses and resulted in Miss Lofthouse losing trust in Dr Wellington and reverting back to her original dentist, Dr Colin Cromie, at his new surgery.
Miss Lofthouse explained: “After I had to visit the emergency dentist, I just didn’t trust Dr Wellington any more so went back to Dr Cromie. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that I could simply transfer my dental insurance policy to a new dentist, so I cancelled the existing plan with the intention of starting another policy under my new dentist.”
In January 2013, Dr Cromie, gave her a full examination and explained that she had tooth decay under her fillings and would require further root canal treatments. He estimated that to have the work done privately, would cost over £1,800.
Miss Lofthouse continued: “I was devastated by the news, I was only 24 so the news that my teeth were in such a poor state was really shocking! What added to my dismay was the fact that, as these were now existing conditions, I could not start a new dental insurance plan until all this remedial work was completed. I was facing the prospect of footing this huge bill for teeth that needed urgent treatment.”
It was at this point that Dr Cromie advised Miss Lofthouse that she might want to approach specialist dental negligence solicitors, Dental Law Partnership to see if there was a case to make a claim for negligence. However, upon investigation not only were the Dental Law Partnership presented with evidence that showed Dr Wellington’s treatment was negligent, but the evidence showed that the majority of failings were in the treatment offered by Dr Cromie prior to 2012 and in the root canal treatment he provided in 2013.
“I was shocked at the news,” continued Miss Lofthouse, “My solicitor advised me to stop seeing Dr Cromie and to continue my treatment with a new dentist. I was amazed that the dentist I had been seeing since my childhood was suspected of being negligent all along.”
X-rays by a third dentist revealed that root canal treatments by both Dr Wellington and Dr Cromie would either need to be re-done and one tooth will need to be extracted. They also revealed that three pieces of dental file that had become embedded in her root canal, had not been removed meaning she was at risk of losing more teeth.
In March this year her case was settled out-of-court for £9,000 against all three defendants. Jonathan Owen explained: “The claim related to the maltreatment of five teeth, both molars and pre-molars which, due to a failure to treat decay and a combination of poor or unnecessary treatment, will need further work.”
Miss Lofthouse concluded: “The compensation will cover my immediate treatment and also the ongoing corrective treatment like crowns. However, I may well have to have a tooth removed and will not be able to afford an implant to replace it.
“I have gone through the pain of having two pieces of the dental file shards removed from my root canal but face another three or four hours to have the final one removed – I just seem to live at the dentist nowadays, it’s really been a traumatic experience.
“I never used to be scared of going to the dentist before but now all my visits are full of trepidation, nervous of what else they may find. Emotionally, it’s been horrendous. It’s so upsetting because these are the person you are supposed to be able trust but I have been totally let down.
“I used to be really confident but am now really self-conscious when I smile – especially if I end up having to have teeth extracted.”