A Gweru man sought help from the Legal Resources Foundation after a botched dental procedure left him not only in pain, but also with no sense of taste. The victim was attended to at a branch of one of the largest medical institutions in the country providing medical insurance, health services and dental services.
In 2015, the man went to the dental clinic to have his teeth cleaned but the dentist on duty, , insisted that one tooth had to be removed. The man initially refused, telling the dentist that the tooth was giving him no problems and on a previous visit a dentist at the same clinic had unnecessarily removed one of his teeth. The dentist insisted on removing the tooth and the victim finally succumbed to the pressure. The irony was the dental procedure triggered numbness in the jaw and excruciating pain. The hapless man went back to the dental clinic after a few days where he was given painkillers that were of no consequence. Six months later the numbness had spread to other parts of his mouth and he lost his sense of taste. To make matters worse, his speech was affected. The man approached the dentist again to complain about the emerging problems and was told that the dentist’s duty was just to remove the tooth; any further health-related complaints were to be taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital. He then went to Parirenyatwa Hospital and where he was informed, to his horror, that the tooth had in fact not been removed. , It had been broken and he now needed further treatment in the form of nerve grafting.
The man approached the LRF for legal assistance . A letter was sent to the head office of the medical institution with a demand of $4,985 in damages to cover future medical expenses and for pain and suffering. Initially, the institution denied responsibility arguing that by agreeing to the medical procedure the man had accepted all associated risks . The institution also alleged contributory negligence by the man, which was not supported by facts. On 1st February 2017 the LRF proceeded to issue summons against the dentist and the institution at which stage the medical company proposed an out-of-court settlement of the matter and undertook to compensate the man in full by the end of April 2017. The relieved man has since acknowledged receipt of $4,985. He expressed appreciation of the LRF’s intervention, saying:
“At one point I indicated to my friend that I wanted the matter to be taken to court, but he laughed at me saying that he experienced the same treatment when his tooth was wrongly extracted by a dentist from the same institutionand he chose not to challenge anyone. Now I will advise him to consider getting legal assistance from the LRF.”