Bruce Keplinger and John Hicks of Overland Park, Kansas, successfully represented an oral surgeon in a malpractice case. The plaintiff was a 50 year old lady with a long history of dental issues. She was referred to the defendant in January 2012 following a failed root canal in tooth #18 (lower left jaw). Her primary dentist had been treating an apparent infection in tooth #18 for nearly two years with the hope of saving the tooth which was part of a three-two bridge. However, by January 2012 the decision was made to remove the tooth.
Following the removal of the tooth the plaintiff developed dry sockets and was treated appropriately. However, in March 2012 the plaintiff returned complaining of left-sided jaw pain. The defendant ordered a CT which revealed no abnormalities on the left side of plaintiff’s face but did show an unknown abnormality on the right. Defendant recommended that plaintiff be evaluated by an ENT and then return to him in 4 weeks. Plaintiff did not see an ENT or keep her follow-up appointment.
One year later, Plaintiff returned to defendant again complaining of left-sided jaw pain. Plaintiff was seen by an infectious disease specialists who suspected bacterial osteomyelitis. Defendant performed a debridement and coordinated with the infectious disease specialist for the administration of IV antibiotics. Plaintiff’s symptoms resolved for approximately 60 days but returned. Plaintiff saw another oral surgeon who also performed a debridement and gave plaintiff antibiotics. Plaintiff’s symptoms resolved for a short time but eventually returned. Plaintiff was ultimately diagnosed with diffuse sclerosing osteomyelitis and treated with muscle relaxants.
At trial plaintiff argued that the defendant should have suspected bacterial osteomyelitis in January 2012 and begun aggressive treatment at that time. Defendants argued that there was never any evidence of bacterial osteomyelitis and that treating plaintiff with anti-biotics sooner would not have made any difference in her outcome.
Plaintiff requested $425,000 in non-economic damages.
On June 10, 2016 after a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.