Should I go after my dentist?

Dear Paulo,

My dentist seems to think it is OK for his staff to cause injury and pain. One of my teeth has required multiple visits, and each have been fraught with mistakes resulting in months of intense pain. They assure me they will make it right; however, after multiple attempts, I don’t want to go through more mistakes and pain.

At this time I would like another dentist to perform the work since this one is incompetent and have this dentist pay the fees for the correction of the work as well as refunding my money for services not delivered. But the dentist refuses to be responsible for the actions delivered to the tooth and doesn’t think that my having come three times for the same procedure makes it fair in asking her to even refund my money. I’d like divine right action – what is the best way to proceed?

– Jacki Age: 30-39

Jacki, sometimes right action demands that you call forth your inner warrior and defend some boundaries. Sometimes it calls for walking away and chalking up a loss to karma. You best make that decision using both logic and intuition, with an eye towards not adding to the suffering you’ve already endured.

I had a dentist once who I concluded must be on some kind of ‘caine. In working on a new crown, he slipped up and badly irritated a nerve that then died, forcing a root canal that had been thought unnecessary. Luckily, he didn’t screw up the root canal, but I can tell you I do have a new dentist!

I sorely wanted to defend myself (and others) by going after him, but because I didn’t have enough evidence, there was no point in getting worked up by making a case that I could only lose in small claims court. So I forgot about it.

Ask yourself: Could you present enough evidence of professional malpractice? If you do have some that you think would hold up, you could go after her in court. On the other hand, sometimes bad things happen and things just go wrong.

In general, I have compassion for all surgeons, because patients generally feel entitled to everything going exactly right or it’s the doctor’s fault (and financial responsibility). The human body is not a machine, and even though surgical medicine is getting really good, any surgery has an unpredictable aspect.

Only you can decide whether you need to either prosecute or completely let go of this. Remaining stuck in between is the path of ongoing suffering. And remember the saying “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die!”

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