Man seeks money from dentist accused of misdiagnosing infection

Kelly Holleran Mar. 13, 2013, 2:42pm

A man claims dentists at a Beaumont dental office failed to diagnose him with a deadly medical condition, causing him to land in a hospital and to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical costs. 

Michael Tran filed a lawsuit Feb. 27 in Jefferson County District Court against Tulip Dental.

In his complaint, Tran claims he visited Tulip on Feb. 28, 2011, because of a very painful toothache. Even though the tooth was infected and causing severe swelling inside Tran’s mouth, doctors failed to remove it, according to the complaint. Instead, the dentist drained the puss from Tran’s mouth, but failed to perform any further work or to even schedule a follow-up appointment, the suit states.

Later on the same day, still in extreme pain, Tran visited the emergency department at Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital with neck swelling and difficulty breathing and swallowing, the complaint says. There, he was diagnosed with Ludwig’s Angina, an infection of the tissue on the bottom of the mouth. The condition can be fatal.

At the hospital, doctors took “appropriate and life-saving measures” before moving him to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Tran ended up staying at the hospital for 18 days where he underwent multiple surgeries. During his stay, Tran claims to have incurred debts of more than $100,000 and lost about $1,500 in wages.

Because of the incident, Tran became impaired and disabled, has been disfigured and scarred, incurred medical costs and endured physical and mental pain and suffering, according to the complaint. He also suffered anguish and emotional distress and lost his enjoyment of life, the suit states.

Tran blames Tulip Dental for causing his injuries, saying it negligently failed to appropriately diagnose his condition, failed to use appropriate techniques, failed to adequately train employees on the treatment of a dental infection, failed to promptly refer Tran to an oral surgeon, failed to properly medicate the dental infection and failed to properly treat the infection.

In his complaint, Tran is asking that any limitations imposed by the Texas Medical Act be declared null for the purposes of his lawsuit. He also seeks special, general and exemplary damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest rates at the maximum rate allowed by law, court costs and other relief the court deems just.

Kenneth W. Lewis of Bush Lewis in Beaumont will be representing him.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. D194-001

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