Decreasing Risks in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

March 9, 2022

Reading time: 2 minutes

An analysis of MedPro Group closed claims data from 2008-2017 showed that technical skill issues appeared in 75 percent of the oral and maxillofacial surgery claims. Additionally, clinical judgment appeared in 49 percent of those claims, and communication issues appeared in 36 percent.

MedPro Group has devised the following high-level strategies related to surgery to promote patient safety and minimize potential liability. Consistently employing these strategies may help reduce any unintended consequences or adverse outcomes in performing oral and maxillofacial surgery.

  1. Uphold a standardized informed consent process in your practice that includes common and significant risks related to the patient and the procedure.
  2. As part of the informed consent process, think about whether the patients have realistic expectations of the surgical outcomes.
  3. Be sure to document the informed consent process, including discussion of risks, benefits, and other treatment options, and place any signed forms in the patient’s record.
  4. When speaking with patients about procedures, treatment plans, anticipated benefits, possible risks, and other options, do so by using layman’s terms. Reinforce patients’ comprehension of the procedure by asking them to repeat back to you in their words what will occur.
  5. If you have patients who have limited English proficiency or disabilities, employ interpreters and auxiliary aids so you can better communicate with them and explain informed consent.
  6. Ensure that all relevant health information for each patient is available before a procedure is started.
  7. Give patients and/or their caregivers both written and verbal instructions related to their treatment plans and follow-up care after a procedure.
  8. Maintain a consistent postoperative discharge assessment process, and be attuned to any repeated patient complaints or concerns when making clinical decisions about patient care.
  9. Strengthen your surgical skills by completing continuing dental education and staying abreast of the latest research and drug modalities.
  10. If you’re a hospital-based oral and maxillofacial surgeon, engage in peer review activities to enhance surgical performance/quality.
  11. If you’re a hospital-based oral and maxillofacial surgeon, make certain that your facility complies with credentialing policies, including the evaluation of each provider’s surgical skills and competency with surgical equipment.

Additional Risk content


In oral surgery, documentation is an essential element of practice. In this case study, the lack of detail in an OMS’s chart entry impacts the outcome of a malpractice case against her.


Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must strictly adhere to state guidelines about records retention. In this case study, an OMS practicing in two neighboring states neglects to maintain records for the required duration in the state in which he is sued, affecting the legal outcome.


Considering a patient’s medical history before treatment can better ensure their safety. In this case study, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon fails to check a hypertensive patient’s blood pressure before a procedure, and consequently, the OMS is reprimanded by the Dental Board.

This document does not constitute legal or medical advice and should not be construed as rules or establishing a standard of care. Because the facts applicable to your situation may vary, or the laws applicable in your jurisdiction may differ, please contact your attorney or other professional advisors if you have any questions related to your legal or medical obligations or rights, state or federal laws, contract interpretation, or other legal questions.

MedPro Group is the marketing name used to refer to the insurance operations of The Medical Protective Company, Princeton Insurance Company, PLICO, Inc. and MedPro RRG Risk Retention Group. All insurance products are underwritten and administered by these and other Berkshire Hathaway affiliates, including National Fire & Marine Insurance Company. Product availability is based upon business and/or regulatory approval and/or may differ among companies.

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