Kentucky Dentist Sued After Dropping Screwdriver in Mouth of Patient Who Then Swallowed It

I am going to go out on the limb and say that Lena David, 71, has a solid torts case. David was in the dentist chair in Lexington when Dr. W.B. Galbreath allegedly dropped a screwdriver in her mouth. She then swallowed it. That’s right, swallowed it and had to have a surgery to have it removed.

With the exception of a claim that David gobbled down a screwdriver on her own, it is pretty hard to see the defense against a negligence claim. What is more bizarre is the failure of Galbraith to settle the claim. A lawsuit has now been filed including x-rays showing the screwdriver. This seems the ultimate expression of res ipsa loquitur. Some things just speak for themselves.

The lawsuit says that Galbreath was cleaning her dental implants when he dropped the screwdriver. He allegedly told David to “gag herself until she vomited” but she could not get herself to force out the tool. Rather than sending her immediately to the emergency room, which would seem prudent given her age, Galbraith sent her to a chiropractor’s office for a x-ray. He then instructed her to try a high fiber diet and look for the screwdriver in her bowel movements. One month later, doctors had to manipulate the screwdriver into the appendix and then perform an appendectomy.

Once again, why hasn’t this been settled? By the time that the jury stops writhing in their chairs, they will be arguing about how high they can go in damages.

Source: Kentucky

21 thoughts on “Kentucky Dentist Sued After Dropping Screwdriver in Mouth of Patient Who Then Swallowed It”

  1. Anyone know if this has been settled yet? My dentist did something similar to a close friend of mine (swallowed needle/dental instrument) and I’m curious about the results. He’s been in the ER for a few days.

  2. From my experience with TN, there is some belief that dental surgery may cause it but for the most part it is a neurological/neurosurgical condition (in my case it is from a neurovascular birth defect, I have had 12 brain surgeries for it including a 100% experimental brain implant.
    TN has been called ‘the worst pain known to man’ and ‘the suicide disease’ (at one point I was advised by md’s rational suicide was acceptable in my case) however, with all the newer treatments and medications, people can find levels of relief from slight to complete (and sometimes there are spontaneous remissions.) Tooth removal will not help it.
    Anecdotal, I have a friend who has full implants upper jaw, she is happy as a clam with them and never had a problem.
    (don’t want to hijack thread but felt it was important to add this.)

  3. I am not surprised people get TGN from implant surgery in upper jaw, which is rarely successful,…
    why do you say that? do you have some #’s or info to back that???

    I don’t mind be simply ‘lucky’ if that is true information but I would never discourage implants given my experience…. au contraire!

  4. I got trigeminal neuralgia from Listerine teeth whitening rinse. One day I brushed my hand across my cheek and felt an awful electrical pain. This was the first symptom. Then I developed a severe toothache in a tooth on the same side of my face (upper right jaw). X-rays and 2 endodentists said tooth healthy. Was referred to ENT who diagnosed TGN. Pain also caused by salty foods. I stopped the mouth wash and TGN symptoms went away over 6 months.

    I had a lot of oral surgery in the same area due to a collapsed tooth [not enough bone left for implant] and my teeth have a lot of small fractures due to age, I guess the whitening agent irritated the nerves. I probably over used it.

    I am not surprised people get TGN from implant surgery in upper jaw, which is rarely successful, Of course the never warn you of TGN, a horrible disorder which is really incurable, no matter what they say, and had been aptly described as “like chewing on jumper cables.” Not called “tic doloreux” for nothing.

  5. Maybe the insurance company is hoping she’ll die before the issue comes before a jury.

  6. No settlement so now Dr. W.B. Galbreath of Lexington KY has gone viral. Not good for the Practice.

    Perhaps he’ll want to sue his insurance company.

  7. Get our your wallet insurance company! This should be a slam dunk if there ever was one. Prof. Turley is right to wonder why in the hell this hasn’t been settled.

  8. SW, Sorry you endured that. That is also an issue of course the ‘borderline’ malpractice. Trigeminal patients often have dentists who do not know what tn is will often take out good teeth, sometimes a lot of them, or do crowns, etc. TN is a severe disabling facial paini disorder, a neurological/neurosurgocal condition and has nothing to do with teeth. I have yet to hear of anyone even thinkiing about malpractice in connection with this and yet it is. (It truly had not even occurred to me until this discussion and your experience.)

  9. If he has a ‘name” he’ll get away with it (based on my personal experience with med mal and a “name”) I also have to assume the thin blue line will apply to dentists too.
    And for sure my experience was deny, deny, even when the denial was perjury on the stand (that was ignored by all). The other side will also try to money them to death through motions, depositions, etc to make it too expensive for her.
    It is all on the side of the professional, the plaintiff is almost always at a disadvantage. (People read about gazillion dollar settlements and then think it is the common rather then the exception. Wish the public really understood the truth. about med. mal. suits.)

  10. Don S I had an issue with a dental implant that was borderline malpractice. It resulted in sinus surgery. Ran into someone yesterday that had a similar issue. I think it happens a lot more than they tell you. Off to the ENT today.

  11. I am in the process of major dental implant work, and have already suffered what I consider borderline malpractice by my (former) oral surgeon Due for more work next week (this has been going on for about 2 years).

    Let’s just say I’ve taken notice . . .

  12. The two species of smart investors to be found in any town in America are dentists and chiropractors. They are good at real estate, the stock market, and horse racing. It is noteworthy here that the dentist sent the big gulp to a chiropractor and not a so called Doctor of Medicine. A doctor of medicine is self described as someone who prescribes drugs or sells them him/her self. A Chiropractor might have a chance of manipulation. For big gulp to swallow this stretches the imagination. I fear that this is some Alien ploy to get us to avoid dentists so that our teeth will fall out and we will have to eat baby food and we all know that the Gerbers will put mind altering drugs into the baby food to keep us in New York so that the Alien Killer Bees can suck up our sweat. See last post.

  13. I had an business law class that was taught by a guy who worked his way through law school as an insurance adjuster. He said the way it was explained to him was you deny all first claims & that eliminates a lot of them, people just give up. Then you deny all second claims & that gets rid of a lot more people who just quit. Then you make ridiculously small offers to third claims & most of the people left will take it. The tiny handful that actually went to court usually won big but he claimed the outfit he worked for estimated they paid out 11.5 cents for every dollar of claim against them.

    This was for a well known company that is still in business and advertizes a lot so I don’t imagine it is that unusual a practice.

  14. Any idea on whether Kentucky has a cap on economic or non-economic damages for med-mal cases?

  15. My fear of dentists is well founded…. I wonder if the patient will be serving crown royal…..

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