Woman with dental phobia who suffered deep laceration to tongue awarded over €88,000 damages.

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Woman with dental phobia who suffered deep laceration to tongue awarded over €88,000 damages. A woman had been left with a 2cm squared patch of nerve damage and a burning, tingling sensation, which Mr Justice Anthony Barr said appears she will have to learn to live with for the rest of her life. Mr Justice Barr said the woman suffered a very painful and frightening experience as a result of the treatment. She suffered a deep laceration when one of the instruments, most probably a polishing disc met her tongue. The woman sued the dental surgeon. Liability was accepted by the dentist, who issued a formal letter of apology in which she sincerely apologised for the injury suffered. Making the award totalling €88,357, Mr Justice Barr said the woman also suffered psychiatric sequelae in the form of PTSD graduating to her present condition of a moderate adjustment disorder. Mr Justice Barr said having watched and listened carefully to the woman give her evidence and having had regard to the evidence of her treating doctors and the documentary evidence in the case, he was entirely satisfied she had given a truthful account of her injuries and of her recovery to date. “I am satisfied she has not in any way tried to exaggerate either her initial symptoms or her continuing difficulties,” the judge said. The judge accepted the woman has a continuing dental phobia and, in an assessment, as to whether she would be a person who would require sedation prior to receiving dental treatment she achieved a very high score. Mr Justice Barr said in evidence that the woman was in immediate excruciating pain after the incident and there was a considerable amount of blood and the dentist was “somewhat dismissive of the injury” and sutured the laceration under anaesthetic. When asked for an apology the judge said it was proffered by the dentist and a suggestion was made at one stage the woman should suck on a piece of ice and that would relieve her pain “and keep her quiet”. As the anaesthetic wore off the pain became more severe, she later had to go to hospital and was prescribed medication. She later complained of severe pain in her tongue, which lasted just over a week. The woman, Mr Justice Barr said felt particularly aggrieved by the fact that no apology was forthcoming immediately after the incident until she specifically asked the dentist for one and that overall at the time, she felt her treatment by the dentist made her feel very belittled. The judge said whatever about the initial reaction by the dentist, credit has to be given for the way in which both the dentist and the owner of the dental practice subsequently reacted to the incident and the woman accepted in cross examination the dentist had tried to phone her when she was in A&E. The owner of the dental practice and the dentist on different days in April 2016 also wrote letters of apology to the woman. “It is only fair to point out that both the dentist and the owner of the dental practice apologised and accepted responsibility for what happened to the woman,” the judge said. He said these actions showed both a compassion towards the woman and her welfare and were in accordance with best medical practice in relation to how medical professionals should deal with things that go wrong in the course of treatment given by them.