TAMPA — Donna Delgado just wasn’t healing properly after dental surgery.
There was too much bleeding, too much pain. Her head hurt. She was dizzy. She had nosebleeds and sinus infections.
And with good reason, according to her lawsuit: The surgeon left an inch-long piece of steel in the wound.
Lodged in Delgado’s right maxillary sinus, the drill bit burr made the 35-year-old woman miserable for nearly a year as she held down a job and cared for her children, her lawyer said.
She wound up in a hospital, where the medical staff detected the foreign object. She was referred to another hospital for surgery.
According to the above St. Petersburg Times article, the woman did return to her dentist about the problems but claims that nothing was ever done to investigate or reasonably treat the pain. According to her lawyer, “A simple x-ray during a followup visit would have detected the metal piece….”
Instead, he alleges, Delgado was sent away repeatedly.
A nurse for an insurance company, Delgado had premium dental coverage, he said.
It didn’t matter.
“She was discharged, and they said, ‘Get over it,’ ” he said. “When she went back to complain, they kept saying, ‘This is normal,’ and ‘Stop complaining.’ ”
According to the lawsuit, which asks for unspecified damages and a jury trial, Delgado was experiencing dizziness and numbness on her right side, where the burr was.
Of course, we’re only hearing one side of the story – and one being told secondhand, by the lawyer bringing suit on behalf of his client, at that. But like so many other dental and medical horror stories, it pounds home some important points:
- Minor pain and discomfort may be expected after dental surgery, and normally, the surgeon will prescribe a pain reliever to help you deal with it. If the pain is more than minor, worsens or doesn’t go away, or if there’s excess bleeding or any other problem, contact your dentist or the dental surgeon your regular dentist referred you to.
- Tell both the staff person who answers the phone – and, at your appointment, the dentist – as much about the pain as possible: what it feels like, its severity (rating it on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being minor and 10 being unbearable, is very helpful) and how it has changed since the dentist last saw you. If you have trouble speaking, have a loved one speak on your behalf. Clear communication is vital.
- During follow-up examination, if the dentist says anything you don’t understand, ask questions. Make sure you can understand what he or she sees and recommends for treating the problem. If you’re having trouble focusing or remembering because of the pain, have a friend or loved one there who can ask questions on your behalf or even take notes. A professional, conscientious dentist shouldn’t mind this.
- If the dentist fails to see the problem and treat it appropriately, contact another dentist for a second opinion. Again, a professional, conscientious dentist shouldn’t be offended by your getting a second opinion.