Illinois Dental Malpractice Case Settles for $1.25 Million

A settlement was reached in the amount of $1.25 million in the case of a 75 year old man who allegedly contracted a severe digestive disorder because his dentist unnecessarily prescribed an antibiotic known to cause the condition in some patients. The settlement is reported to be the highest in Illinois for dental malpractice cases not involving death.

It was alleged that the plaintiff, a retired owner of a men’s retail clothing store, contracted clostridium difficile after taking Clindamycin, an antibiotic prescribed by the dentist during an office visit in 2005. The dentist prescribed the antibiotic when the plaintiff was paying a visit to his office for a regular cleaning. A crown had been put in place three weeks before. The patient then informed the dentist that the crown still bothered him and the dentist determined that it needed a root canal.

The plaintiff’s attorney contended there was no reason to prescribe an antibiotic because there was no infection. The plaintiff developed bleeding, diarrhea and then went for treatment with a gastroenterologist. An ileostomy surgical procedure was performed on the plaintiff but failed. Ileostomy can be temporary or permanent. An ileostomy is a surgically created opening in the small intestine, usually at the end of the ileum. It is the exit of the small intestine to the skin surface. It then was reversed leaving the man incontinent.

Some would comment about this tragedy as being unfortunate, but yet unpredictable. That’s not the case here. Antibiotics are useful when a patient has been diagnosed with infection acting within the body. When that occurs, the standard of care in most situations would be for the medical provider to identify the bacteria by culturing it and then assigning the corresponding antibiotic to start to eradicate the infection. The use or misuse of antibiotics has known risks of injury including liver damage, tendon damage and as here, organ damage. In this case it was predictable and thus preventable because the taking of Clindamycin is known to cause organ damage or clostridium difficile. Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. difficile most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long term care facilities and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice cases for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Arlington Heights, Lisle, Blue Island, and Evanston.

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