Adverse Event…or an opportunity for compensation?!
A dental nurse is in surgery setting up for a patient. With the patient in the chair and the nurse feeling a little dehydrated, the nurse decides to pour a cup of water and take a drink. On taking a sip, the half empty cup of water is then placed on the worktop whilst the nurse continues with the preparation, which involves preparing a sodium hypochlorite solution to irrigate a root canal. This solution is also placed on the worktop. After a couple of minutes the dental nurse decides to take another sip of water…however, the wrong cup is picked up and the sodium hypochlorite solution is ingested in error. This causes the dental nurse discomfort and a subsequent claim for compensation.
The justification behind the claim is that the cups used for drinking and those used for treatment preparation are not differentiated in any way and although initial thoughts may point to human error, the fact remains that as a business, the appropriate control measures have not been implemented sufficiently enough to reduce or eliminate the risk, hence the claim is so far justified.
What should the Business Owner / Practice Manager now do?