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Drunk Drilling: Dentist Caught Drinking While Working On Patients

If anything could make a cavity drilling even less pleasant and more nerve-wracking, it might be the realization that the dentist is dangerously drunk. One dentist is facing criminal charges after his staff called police to report his on-the-job intoxication. This surprising story from New York will resonate with any Ohioan who has ever endured the nervous discomfort of a dental procedure.

Two assistants at a small dental practice reached a breaking point this week after watching their boss drink alcohol while treating patients. As shocking as this behavior might sound, the assistants say that the dentist had been doing it for months. One assistant watched as the dentist drank from a sports bottle. The bottle was in one hand, a high-powered dental drill in the other.

Smelling alcohol in the room, the assistant waited until the dentist left and opened the bottle, confirming that it contained vodka. In her words to the New York Post, "it was at that time that I had to do something. I was concerned for [his next] patient." "When you're using that drill, you have to be very careful and have a steady hand." After conspiring with a coworker, the assistant called the police.

These patients were lucky that the assistants were prepared to take appropriate action to protect them from a dangerous situation.

We entrust our safety to doctors, dentists and other medical professionals on a daily basis - this story is a reminder that they are just as human as the rest of us. Doctors make big mistakes and those mistakes can be very costly for patients, both in terms of wellbeing and the financial expenses of further treatment. The medical malpractice system exists precisely because of stories like this: these claims can help compensate victims for physician errors and negligence.

Source: New York Post, "Filling no pain: Dentist all smiles in drunk-drill bust," Selim Algar, Jan. 23, 2013

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