Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice Newsletter

  • States Limit Malpractice Awards, Feds Likely to Follow Suit
    High profile personal injury lawsuits have left many with the impression that juries systematically award multi-million dollar awards in order to punish wrongdoers. Although juries may, and frequently do decide to make such awards, most... Read more.
  • Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice
    Prior to initiating any medical procedure, a health care provider should obtain the patient’s “informed consent.” What constitutes informed consent varies from state to state, but usually includes a discussion with the... Read more.
  • Medical Malpractice Claims and Cardiology
    Cardiological specialists are required to adhere to a strict standard of care in diagnosis and treatment. If a specialist deviates from the standard of care and, as a result, a cardiac patient suffers an injury, then the specialist must... Read more.
  • Negligent Dental Work Can Result in Nerve Damage
    Dentists and oral surgeons are expected to provide a standard of care that other competent and reasonable dentists and oral surgeons would provide under the same or like circumstances. When they fail to do so, they may be held liable... Read more.
Medical Malpractice News Links

Amalgam-Related Lawsuits Dismissed

Amalgams are a type of dental tooth filling which, unlike gold or porcelain fillings, contain mercury. In the past several years, the American Dental Association (ADA) and several state dental chapters have come under the attack of numerous lawsuits for supporting the continued use of amalgams. In addition, bills to ban the use of mercury have been introduced in Congress and in several state legislatures.

Amalgam-related lawsuits have rested on the criticism that the level of mercury present in amalgams causes harm, and have claimed that dentists often misrepresent amalgams as “silver” fillings. However, these types of lawsuits have continuously been dismissed for lack of scientific evidence connecting amalgams to harm.

Mercury-Containing Amalgams

Amalgams contain mercury, which can be toxic at high levels of exposure. Research concerning amalgam fillings has linked mercury to heart disease, trigeminal neuralgia, depression, kidney damage and hearing loss. Lawsuits in California and Georgia have even accused amalgams of causing autism. Supporters of eliminating amalgam fillings also cite concerns that the mercury in amalgam fillings may be released into the environment when bodies are cremated.

However, scientists have determined that it is safe to absorb up to 40 micrograms of mercury daily, and mercury absorption from amalgams is only from one to three micrograms daily.

Federal Organizations That Affirm the Use of Amalgam Fillings

Despite criticism that the mercury levels in amalgams can cause autism, autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer’s, the following federal organizations have systematically denied any scientific link between amalgams and harmful diseases:

  • The American Dental Association
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Consumers Union
  • World Health Organization
  • World Dental Federation
  • National Institutes of Health

Despite assertions from the foregoing organizations that amalgam fillings are safe, many still advocate phasing out the use of amalgam fillings. In March of 2007, a bill was introduced in Vermont which would require dentists to provide patients with a brochure containing information on amalgam alternatives and requiring dentists to secure a patient’s consent before proceeding with an amalgam filling. As of 2008, the use of dental amalgam has been restricted in the countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and a committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to ratify assertions of the safety of dental amalgam.

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