A dentist who removed a whole row of a woman's teeth instead of the four she wanted pulled breached her rights to informed consent and appropriate care, the Health and Disability Commissioner has found.
The patient had agreed to have four teeth removed but before the extraction on December 5, 2002, the dentist, who was not named, asked her again which teeth were to be pulled. She said "four teeth" but the dentist heard "these teeth".
The dentist did not check records that stated the woman was only to have four teeth removed and he also failed to check the partial plate to be fitted which would have made it obvious that the whole lower row was not to be removed.
The commissioner's decision noted that earlier the option to remove the whole row of teeth had been discussed but the woman decided against it.
Later, reviewing his treatment plan, the dentist mistakenly thought it was decided to go ahead with the whole clearance. He did not get written consent for this and relied on the conversation with his patient.
The commissioner ruled the dentist had failed to obtain informed consent as required under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.
He also found the dentist did not provide dental services with reasonable care and skill, also breaching the code.
The woman was bruised by the extractions and suffered a higher risk of infection and other problems associated with wearing a full lower denture.
The decision said the dentist quickly admitted his error and has made some efforts to remedy it. He apologised unreservedly to the woman and provided her with some free follow-up treatment. He also contributed to the transport costs for her initial treatment in 2002.
The commissioner said the dentist had reviewed his procedures to make sure a similar error would not happen again.
The decision was to be forwarded to the Dental Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Dental Association.