A TRIP to the dentist is scary enough for many people.
Imagine coming out of the dentist's office with two less teeth.
That's what happened to a patient at the National Dental Centre.
The dentist, Dr Debbie Hong Pooi Mun, has since been fined $3,000 and censured, the Singapore Dental Council said today.
The incident happened in May 2007.
Dr Hong pulled out two teeth - the upper left first premolar and lower left second premolar - from the wrong patient.
Explaining how the mistake happened, her employer the National Dental Centre said the root cause was traced to the issue of patient identification, where a referral slip for extraction was attached to the wrong patient call number chit. This resulted in the wrong patient being called into the room for extraction. The attending staff that day had also failed to verify the patient’s identity and treatment needed.
The mistake was discovered and the patient was informed within an hour of it happening. NDC said an apology was immediately made, followed by consultations with an endodontist, orthodontist and oral surgeon. Unfortunately though, attempts to re-implant the extracted teeth were unsuccessful and a new treatment plan was presented to the patient.
The patient completed corrective treatment in January this year, and NDC absorbed all costs for the treatment.
According to NDC, a full review of internal safety processes was conducted following the incident to reduce the risk of similar incidents recurring. Among the changes implemented, staff are now required to verify the patient's identity using two of the following markers - name, NRIC, date of birth or address - every step of the way, and especially before a procedure is done.
A "time out" is also called before performing extractions, root treatments and other surgical procedures. During this "time out", the doctor and assistant reconfirms the type of procedure to be done as well as which tooth is involved.
NDC said since the changes were implemented, there have been no repeat of the same mistake.