The Mad Doctor's face-bashing machine and me

This morning I went to my dentist’s office. My dentist has a nice new office into which they moved over the weekend. It’s a very attractive, well-appointed space but not in a “look at what we can afford with your money” way. The receptionist was polite and very appreciative of the Wombats (my three children), which is a must. They were ready for me almost on time, and I was shown to a dental chair.

Did I mention that they were just moving in? A few workmen were still around installing fixtures and fixing installations. Anyhow, after the preliminaries, I am asked to bite down on a frame holding some film so the technician can take some x-rays. The machine itself is a beauty, mounted on an articulated arm attached to the wall. Better than the old free-standing one which got in everybody’s way and forced patients into uncomfortable contortions. This one just swings into place while I turn my head slightly and–

Suddenly I’m sitting on the floor. Why, I wondered, am I sitting on the floor when there’s a perfectly good chair behind my head? What are those black things floating around that disappear when I try to focus on them? And why does my face hurt so much more than it did before I got here?

These and other questions were answered a moment later when I could turn my head again. The beautiful new x-ray machine and its clever articulated arm had torn completely loose from the wall and smacked me in the face.

You know, when you have a toothache, you find yourself thinking things like “I could not possibly be in any more pain than I am right now.” Ordinarily you would be right, because ordinarily people don’t have the opportunity to say that and immediately get a heavy chunk of expensive medical technology right in the mouth. I imagine I speak for a very small elect group of enlightened folk when I say, I know something you don’t.

The staff was very professional. The technician, once she quit freaking out, got me an ice bag. Everybody apologized in that incredibly convoluted word dance that goes with honestly being sorry but not wanting to say anything that implies that anybody’s actually responsible for anything. I asked for and got the name of the company that installed the beautiful new x-ray machine with the sophisticated articulated arm. I got a prescription – for an anti-inflammatory drug that will certainly keep the swelling in my face to less photogenic proportions should I get the idea to find myself a camera and a lawyer. Of course, taking even over the counter pain medication is contraindicated in every case.

And I got another appointment for Friday, because they couldn’t keep today’s appointment, because, well, the x-ray machine was broken.

Grr. I can’t say it, but I can type it. Grr.

I hope the dentist has words with the people who installed that-good GOD, dude!
May I ask, do you have an abcessed tooth? (You mentioned pain and a swollen face). Having gone through the same about five years ago (on my 21rst birthday, nonetheless-no bars for Guin!), my sympathies. The pain was so bad that had I posession of state secrets, I’d have started spilling my guts.

Well, if I start a thread about the failings, flaws, foibles and faults of my face, it’s good manners to answer some questions. I have a cracked premolar - #13, my dentist affectionately calls it. There was no swelling except for that caused by the, ah, extreme close-up technique with the x-ray machine. Oddly, it really didn’t leave much of a mark, considering the jolt it gave me. I feel kind of cheated. People should be able to simply glance at me and know my suffering, the better to admire the heroic grace with which I bear it.

Make sure you get copies of the medical records pertaining to the accident from your doctor. You’ll have evidence of your injury and it sounds like you certainly have some witnesses. I’m sure you could sue the company that installed this thing for some decent money.

So, how did the wombats’s checkups go? :slight_smile:

I’m sure he could, too, but why in the fuck would he/she want to? As long as they aren’t unduly injured, and the tooth problem doesn’t get worse, and they don’t have a concussion or have to go to the doctor, there’s no cause to sue. This is a sign of the over-litigiousness of western society(and I’m a legal assistant). People rushing to sue just because something bad happened, even when there was no permanent damage/loss experienced is why personal iunjury and worker’s compensation law no longer protects people and doctors can’t make a living caring for people legitimately injured in situations like the OP mentioned.

A phone call to the company explaining the situation would probably net them paid medical expenses plus something else above and beyond damages experienced in the episode.



abcessed tooth survivor here.

Most painful experience in my life.

Goddamned right it is.

Nothing better than hearing, “It’s infected, and we can’t do anything until the antibiotics I’m going to give you kill the infection. Come back in a week.”

Come back in a week? This is when I’m in a situation where I come close to passing out when I turn my head too quickly…


Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

I won’t be suing because 1) though I’m a rationalist in most respects, I can’t get rid of the superstition that unearned money is cursed. I blame my parents. 2) The effort would be out of proportion to the object sought. Do I deserve a little bit of compensation? Maybe, but attorneys don’t sue for a “little bit” of anything, in my experience. I was hurt a little and frightened a lot, but that’s it, and pain and fear are things no one can reasonably expect to escape completely.

I do wish that someone there had called an EMT, or recommended that I see a doctor, or at least looked at me closely enough to determine whether I might have a concussion before watching me drive away with my kids. It would have been nice if the dentist had offered some sort of discount from his regular fee when I asked him what the procedure would cost. But they didn’t, and nothing really bad happened.

The Wombats, by the way, were there only because I was. Their next appointment isn’t for a couple of months.

I think I’ll see the dentist on Friday, and then tell him why I’m finding another dentist, and that will be that.

Definitely should have called and EMT, or at least checked you out before you drove off.

Probably the best course of action along with calling the installer to find out what the hell happened.


P.S.- I’m so, SO sorry to hear about you having not only an abcess, but getting whacked. I don’t think I made that clear in my first post.

Well, maybe the dentist might want to sue-someone could have been seriously injured-those X-ray machines are pretty damn big.

You can’t really sue over something that might have possibly seriously injured someone. You have one person, mildly injured, who realizes that he/she was not seriously injured enough to encumber the legal system with her/his complaint. That person certainly has grounds to let the dentist have it, and also to unleash a little whoopass on the installers, though.

The only thing the dentist could sue for is the possible loss of a client and her/his family.


Disclaimer - I am not a dentist. I do work in a dental office.

Be aware that if you were hit in the tooth or root area affected teeth may die in the next 6 months to one year’s time. Your dentist will already know this and should have mentioned it. Ask for copies of the injury documentation and inform your new dentist of the injury.

Every few months the newsletter we receive from our liability carrier has a reminder that an injured patient is to be offered transport to the medical facility of their choice and payment for x-rays and other treatment. We also have to notify the carrier of any circumstances with the potential to lead to a lawsuit, even if the injury seems minor or the patient refuses said offer.

Has anyone from the office called today to ask how you are?

Thank you, Peri – Ms. or Mr. O’Dontal, I presume? The dentist’s receptionist did call later that day, but I missed it. Now that the most irrational part of the anger is gone, the getting hit and feeling foolish and mad because there’s no one to hit back or at least blame for it, I’m coping better. The installers need to check their work more carefully. The dentist and his staff need to brush up on their emergency procedures. I need to get through the week and play with the Wombats this weekend to make up for being a grumpy, inert lump for the past few days.

This wasn’t a very good thread, was it? I think we’re about to be thrown out of the BBQ Pit for lack of heat. If so, thanks for the sympathy and advice, and the company.

Good lord, no! Although the job and the name came into existence around the same time, it’s purely coincidental. I’m not wedded to my work. The name precedes the job by three months.

:dubious: I would hope he’d be able to figure that one out on his own…

Just when you thought YOUR dentist visit was bad…

" CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former employees of a dentist claim the man made female patients unwittingly swallow his semen during visits to his office in Cornelius.

Dr. John Hall is accused by the state dental board of violating dentistry’s standard of care, engaging in immoral conduct, and committing sexual assault or battery. "

Fuck your asshole dentist. I can’t believe that piece of shit didn’t even offer to comp you on your bill. Did he at least throw in an extra box of floss? What a cock goblin. Sue that motherfucker for all he’s worth, and make him rue the day you walked into his hellhole of an office. Since you don’t have the balls to take his money though, you can just give it to me instead, since I just saved your thread from being thrown out of the Pit. :smiley:

Neuroman, it is a strange world in which I can honestly and sincerely thank you for helping this thread find a more appropriate tone.