The Health & Disability Commissioner has found a dentist guilty of a breach of the patients’ code of rights after he performed root canal surgery on the wrong tooth.

The patient had attended with infected gums between two teeth and the dentist investigated and booked her in to have a root canal done on the infected tooth.  Unfortunately when the patient attended, the dentist isolated and operated on the incorrect tooth. 

He only realised his error as the patient was leaving his surgery.  He immediately advised her of the error and apologised and arranged for another surgeon to carry out the completion of the procedure to cap off the tooth operated on.

Luckily for the patient the infection in the other tooth resolved itself and no further action was required on that tooth.

The Health & Disability Commissioner recommended that the dentist apologise to the patient and undergo training on identification of the site for treatment.

Alan Knowsley
Medical Lawyer