Florida Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Over Dental Drill Piece Left in Patient’s Head

A Florida woman has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against a dentist who she says left part of a metal drill bit in her head for 11 months.

The complaint, filed by Donna Delgado, charges oral surgeon Ralph Eichstaedt with medical malpractice for allegedly leaving an inch-long piece of metal drill bit in her sinuses. According to a report by the Associated Press, Eichstaedt dismissed Delgado’s concerns about not feeling well and the drill bit was not discovered until this past August, about a year after Delgado went to Eichstaedt to have two teeth removed.

Delgado claims that the inch-long piece of drill was left in her maxillary sinus during the removal of the two teeth, causing her a variety of ailments, including numbness in her right side. Delgado, concerned about the recurring problems and numbness on her right side, went to a hospital for emergency treatment, where a magnetic scan done by hospital staff unaware of the drill bit caused it to move, resulting in excruciating pain. Delgado allegedly suffered dizziness, numbness, sinus infections, nosebleeds and pain from the broken drill bit. Doctors discovered the drill bit burr and had it surgically removed.

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The dental surgery lawsuit alleges that Eichstaedt could have performed a simple x-ray and detected the piece of metal, but instead, repeated attempts by Delgado to find answers were rebuffed. Both Eichstaedt and the Dental Health Group were named as defendants in the malpractice lawsuit, which is seeking unspecified damages.

Leaving all or part of a surgical tool behind after a medical procedure is rare, but can pose serious and potentially fatal consequences. Precautionary measures like checklists, a count of medical tools, tracking bar codes and radiographic screening after operations can greatly reduce the risk. According to a 2003 report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there were about 1,500 cases a year in which a surgical tool was left behind after surgery. Approximately 88% of the cases involved a final count that was incorrect.

The difficulty in detecting the surgical mistake has led most states to allow exceptions to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in cases where a foreign object is left behind during surgery.

1 Comments

  • JenniferFebruary 18, 2010 at 3:27 am

    I had dental surgery by this dentist in January. I have been in so much pain since the surgery. He ruled it as atypical facial pain. I am scared, and I do not know what to do!! I am currently taking about 10 motrin a day, and I just started Neurontin.

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