A patient brought a claim against a DDU member after swallowing an implant driver during implant placement.

The scene

A DDU member completed a week long course on the surgical placement of dental implants, and shortly afterwards began placing implants at her practice. While placing an implant on a young male patient's lower left second molar, she lost control of the short implant driver which was then swallowed by the patient.

The dentist stopped the procedure immediately before suturing the surgical site, and the patient was then sent to hospital for a chest X-ray. This confirmed that the implant driver was in the patient's stomach and no emergency medical treatment was required.

The member apologised to the patient. She ensured the details were recorded in the patient's notes and logged as an adverse incident by the practice.

The claim

A few weeks later, the dentist received a letter from a solicitor acting on behalf of the patient, confirming that the patient was making a civil claim for compensation. She immediately contacted the DDU and the matter was handled by the claims handling team.

An independent oral surgeon was then asked to provide an expert report. Unfortunately, the particular technique that had been used and lack of precaution taken to protect the patient from swallowing the instrument was deemed a breach of duty of care by the expert. The DDU were therefore forced to settle the case on behalf of the member for £12,000.

At the same time as the compensation claim was ongoing, the dentist also received a letter from the GDC stating that a fitness to practise investigation was also being carried out. The claims handler ensured that the file was shared with a dento-legal adviser (DLA) who assisted the member with the GDC investigation. The DLA advised the member to create a personal development plan to help focus her CPD on those areas where the GDC were likely to have concerns.

Following the DDU's advice the member completed further training in the placement of implants and began keeping a log-book of her experience. She also identified an implant mentor, began carrying out audits and placing complex implants under supervision.

The GDC was reassured by the additional training the DDU member had completed and the further steps she had taken to avoid a recurrence, and decided that her fitness to practice was not impaired. The GDC therefore gave her formal advice and closed the case.

This page was correct at publication on 08/12/2017. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.