Root canal treatment claims jump 42% in the last five years

root canal treatment

The DDU has expressed its concern over the rise in root canal treatment claims

Root canal treatment claims are up 42% in the last five years, according to the Dental Defence Union (DDU).

Over 1,400 claims included root canal treatment, around a quarter of the total claims made to the DDU, causing it to warn dentists to recognise their technical limits and be prepared to refer patients if necessary when performing root canal treatment.

The most common allegations in the claims analysed by the DDU were that the treatment was unsatisfactory, inadequate, or failed completely leading to the patient having to have their tooth extracted.

‘Root canal treatment is often regarded with dread by patients, and although the success rate is 90% if carried out to a good standard, it is a significant cause of claims and complaints reported to the DDU,’ Eric Easson, DDU dento-legal adviser and author of the DDU’s endodontic claims analysis, said.

‘Given that over 5.6 million NHS dental patients had root canal treatment in England in 2014/15 and many more would have been treated privately, it is not surprising that in a small number of cases, there is a poor outcome.

‘At the same time, root canal procedures demand a higher level of technical skills than many other dental restorations and there are a range of risk factors to consider.

‘In short, endodontic procedures are risky and a miscalculation can prove costly in terms of a poor outcome for the patient and the potential for a claim or complaint.

‘It’s vital that dentists know their limitations and are prepared to refer patients to a specialist if this is in their best interests.’


  1. 1

    I could not agree more. I am involved in a claim regarding RCT, the problem is in who to refer to. I referred the patient aged under 18 to Sheffield Dental Hospital as the treatment involved a molar tooth and treatment had been requested as a part of orthodontic treatment. Apparently it does not fall within their criteria as they do not treat molar teeth, however we as GDP’s are expected to. What hope is there for us?

  2. 2

    Roger, there is no hope for us. The same scenario can apply for implant treatment on the NHS. If the budget isn’t there then there is no protocol. And if the treatment isn’t provided on the NHS then there is a justifiable claim.

    We have to admit that the system is not intended to work, and that treatment is not free at the point of need or delivery or anything else.

  3. 3

    Under this farcical contract you will be damned if you do or you don’t !
    Try to do the RCT in a molar as a GDP (specially a difficult one on a young patient who is also having orthod. treatment with the possible risk for future resorp. on that molar) and you will be doomed and a claim brought forward if it fails (in quite a few cases that I know of with the “gentle” encouragement of an Endodontist so the pat. can claim the money and go back to them to have ire-RCT done with the comment that it should not have been carried out by a GDP in the first place but you should have been referred to us) or don’t do it and refer the pat. like you have done and get sued anyways.
    The whole system is in a meltdown with Indemnity organisations paying the patients off because it is ultimately cheaper (with the subsequent encouragement for more pat. to sue) and the GDC’s now “In house” solicitors getting paid out of ARF
    This can not go on for ever and there will be a collapse of the rotten system or an exodus of dentists (and now possibly Junior Doctors) to other parts of the world / Europe with a more civilised system.

  4. 4

    In this case, prevention is cure, and committing to care for your dental health is a priority. Oil pulling is an excellent treatment that assists you in keeping bacterial growth in the mouth at bay.

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