Patient: I had a root canal treatment in 2005 on the #2 tooth.
In December of 2008, the gum was infected around the tooth and I was advised by my regular dentist to see an endodontist,
who quickly concluded that I had a failed root canal due to “an inadequate and missed canal.”
I let the dentist’s office know the circumstances and they apologized for making a mistake and offered to retreat the tooth for a 50% off their normal price, still making it $500. Keep in mind that I already paid them $850.
After the original rct. I had a gold crown placed and that was compromised during the retreatment and I had to get another one.
All of this, not including the original cost of the rct has cost me over $2,000. Even though there is no question that this happened due to their error, the dentist has refused to budge on offering any re-compensation.
Already Tried: So far,I’ve written 3 very polite letters, explaining what I would like them to do to rectify the situation.
They admitted they made a mistake and the endondist’s x-rays proved conclusively that they made a mistake. It boggles my mind why they think they shouldn’t be held financially responsible. I can’t think of any other business where people would get away with this.
Anyway, that’s my rant for the day.
Doctor: The ethical answer to your question depends on specifics of the case that cannot be determined here. And to be entirely fair, both sides of a dispute need to be considered.
For example, it may be obvious to the casual observer where the fault lies here. However, there are several confounding issues. First, it is a matter of fact that all root canal treatments pose a potential for failure; even the most skillfully executed root canal can fail. Second, it is unclear whether the person with whom you spoke at the dental office was speaking for the dentist and admitting a real mistake, or whether a canal was not treated because it was blocked or for some other legitimate reason it was not feasible to treat it. Third, some dentists assign fees for root canal therapy based on the number of canals, and therefore it follows that an additional fee would be charged for treating an additional canal.
This is not to condone careless endodontic treatment, but there is potential for relevant parts of the story to be omitted when one participant in a dispute is unavailable.
For this reason, and because your dentist has shown an unwillingness to concede on this point, you have no other recourse but to implement some form of adjudicatory process if you wish to pursue this matter. You may either consult with an attorney, or you may want to contact your local dental society to see if they offer a peer review process. You can find contact information for your local dental society on the online ADA web directory.
Hope this helps…
Great advice. The circumstances in which the root canal was performed is unknown. Root canals are sometimes not quite straight forward. The anatomy of the tooth can pose complications for a dentist. This is not a black and white or right or wrong case.
People usually think all treatments have 100% success rate and they’ll last for life… But every case has its own peculiarities. Thanks for sharing your insights on this matter!
Even though the determination of whether or not the root canal treatment was inadequate is not quite simple, since the dentist has admitted their fault, you could have looked for legal advise right after the determination of the second dentist. I am not sure however if legal action can be pursued after this many years.