The NHS Highland board is ordered to issue an apology by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) after a dental patient complained following a wisdom tooth extraction which resulted in a altered sensation in their tongue

NHS Highland logo.

The NHS Highland board has been ordered to apologize to a dental patient and better inform patients in future.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has upheld the complaint from the person – known only as Patient C.

This was related to the extraction of a wisdom tooth and Patient C subsequently experienced altered sensation in his tongue.

They were advised that this was likely the result of nerve damage which was a possible side effect of the tooth extraction.

The report states: “C complained that he was not informed of this possible side effect before the extraction.

“A handwritten note on the consent form signed by C included a statement of altered sensation, but C disputed that this was present when they signed the form.”

The SPSO sought the independent opinion of a dentist and, although the evidence gathered during its investigation could not determine with certainty which of these positions was the most accurate, it was considered that the jury did not reasonably inform C:

• why the extraction was deemed necessary;

• what were the risks and benefits of extraction, alternative treatments or no action;

• what was the percentage chance of nerve damage;

• or what altered sensation meant.

The report states: “As a result, we found that the board failed to reasonably advise C that nerve damage was a possible side effect of having a wisdom tooth removed as required and upheld the complaint.”

The SPSO’s first recommendation was that the board of health should apologize to C for not reasonably advising that nerve damage was a possible side effect of a wisdom tooth extraction.

The report added: “The apology must clearly mention each of the points that the council did not reasonably raise C

aware of. Apologies must meet the standards set out in the SPSO Apology Guidelines.

In addition, it was decided that patients should be provided with clear information about the nature of the proposed dental treatment, the purpose of the treatment, the risks and benefits of the treatment compared to no treatment and any other treatment options. , and valid consent is obtained. and registered in accordance with the standards of the General Dental Council.

A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: ‘We are very sorry that the expected level of care was not applied to ensure informed consent and full understanding during the treatment of this patient. We contacted them directly to apologize and let them know what we changed as part of our learning.

“Since the complaint, we have updated our patient information leaflet to ensure that patients have all the relevant information and can make an informed choice before the procedure. We have also updated the consent form used for general anesthesia procedures.

“The report has also been shared with senior clinical staff and staff involved in the patient’s care.”

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