Dental care / Wrong treatment
This is a complaint about treatment I have received from Dr. Phan, a member of OLNEY ENDODONTICS, P.A. group.
On May 5th, 2009, I came to see my general dentist Nellie Dobrowolski for discomfort in my right lower jaw. Dr. Dobrowolski took an X-ray and told me I had infected root canals. The tooth was under a cap that was holding a bridge of three units, so it was extremely important for me to keep the tooth, or else my expenses to replace the whole piece would be couple thousand dollars. Dr. Dobrowolski referred me to OLNEY ENDODONTICS, P.A. to see Dr. Tu A. Phan, D.D.S. 18109 PRINCE PHILIP DRIVE, SUITE 350, OLNEY, MD 20832, [protected].
Dr. Phan opened the tooth by drilling through the cap and applied some medication. She did not treat root canals. After that she scheduled for me to come in ten days, on May 15, 2009 and prescribed me antibiotic, but no pain medicine. I started taking prescribed antibiotic and from the very beginning I felt bad – I was constantly sick, weak, my heart was racing and I had difficulty breathing. I kept feeling severe pain and over-the-counter painkillers did not help.
Next day I did not go to work as I felt very bad. I stopped taking the antibiotic and called Dr.Phan’s office. I told her that prescribed antibiotic causes strong side effects and also asked her to prescribe stronger painkillers. Dr. Phan recommended Advil, though when filling my initial forms I clearly marked that I was allergic to aspirin. I told Dr. Phan that I could not take Advil because of my allergy. “How do YOU know?” she asked. I told her I was reading the labels and knew Advil contained aspirin. So, on my request she prescribed me Tylenol 3 with codeine and changed my antibiotic to Z-Pack to be taken one pill daily for five days. I was in so much pain that I could not sleep all night and no medication would take the pain away.
On May 7, in the morning, I could not go to work again, thus using my third vacation day. I called Nellie Dobrowolski and told her I was in severe pain. I was trying to treat it with Tylenol 3, which has to be taken one pill every 6 hours. I was taking 2 pills every 3 hours and the pain would still not go away. Doctor Dobrowolski advised me to see Dr. Phan immediately. My son, Lubomyr Murashchyk, had to drive me there, because at that point I could not drive myself. Dr. Phan did nothing to the tooth, never took an X-ray, but instead told me to be more patient. She also doubled my dosage of Z-pack and duration of taking it. So for 9 days I was taking double dose of the antibiotic until next appointment. I also told her that I was putting ice pack to my tooth to soothe my pain. Dr. Phan told me heat was better then cold. This surprised me as I knew heat could promote propagation of infection, but still followed her recommendation and was applying heat later. Every day until May 15 I was in severe pain and weakness and was unable to sleep, but still had to go to work. No doubt, my condition reflected on the quality of my work.
On May 15 I finally came for my appointment with Dr. Phan at 4:30 PM. Then for the first time she actually opened the canal. The particular tooth had two root canals. She only started treating the first one never finishing it. She explained to me that my case was complicated because initially the tooth was treated in Eastern Europe. This was not my first tooth where root canal had been previously treated (prepared for a cap) in Eastern Europe, and I never had a problem. She never started the second canal and scheduled another appointment for May 22, in one week. I insisted she took an X-ray, because I wanted to show the file my Dr. Dobrowolski, but upon leaving forgot about it and left it in Dr. Phan’s office.
Next day, on Saturday, May 16, the right side of my face got swollen; my throat and my right ear were hurting too. I called Dr. Phan on her emergency line and left a message asking for help. When she called back, I described my symptoms and asked her to treat the second canal. She refused explaining that it was her day off and told me no doctor would see me over the weekend. Instead she suggested that I came on Monday, May 18, to check on the adjacent tooth and see if it was this adjacent tooth that was causing the pain. As it turned out later, the adjacent took was healthy. I told her I might not make it till Monday and die of pain and medication overdose, as I had to take painkillers frequently and in large quantities. She did not respond.
On Sunday, May 17, swelling of my throat and neck progressed so that I could hardly speak and my throat was hurting like during severe infection. My husband, Ihor Murashchyk, found an emergency dental office in Rockville, where I was seen by Dr. Maryam Seifi at 1:00 PM. She took an x-ray of my entire head and saw that infection has spread so far that there was no chance in saving my tooth. She asked me what antibiotic Dr. Phan prescribed and was extremely surprised to learn it was Z-Pack, because Z-Pack, as she explained, was used for respiratory infections, but never was effective for anaerobic infections, like in my case. So, as it turned out, I was taking double dose of useless antibiotic for 10 days. I told Dr. Seifi that at the beginning Dr. Phan prescribed me different antibiotic, which caused strong side effects. Dr. Seifi told me this antibiotic was extremely strong and very few people could tolerate it. She told me that in my case erythromycin was the right antibiotic and wrote me a prescription for it. She opened the canal, that was treated by Dr. Phan and extracted plenty of puss from it. My gums were so inflamed that anesthesia did not work. She also had to cut my gum open to clean the puss out, because infection had spread into my gum and it was impossible to clean it through the canal. Finally Dr. Seifi recommended applying ice-pack and find an oral surgeon to extract the tooth as soon as possible. I told her that I was applying ice-pack in the beginning, but Dr. Phan recommended heat instead. Dr. Seifi was astonished by such recommendation. I am sure if I had followed Dr. Phan’s recommendations and did not seek emergency help on Sunday I would have had sepsis by Monday. Finally, when I was leaving, I had to pay $900.00 out of pocket as Dr. Seifi’s office was not set up to file clams with insurance.
On May 18, 2009, Monday, I saw my general dentist Dr. Dobrowolski for a referral to an oral surgeon. She removed the bridge together with the cap from the sick tooth. After that I saw Dr. William Brayer, who extracted my tooth. He intended to sedate me, because he was not sure if usual local anesthesia would be efficient on a tooth infected to such extend. But because I ate a slice of bread in the morning to take my antibiotic, he could not proceed with sedation and had to perform the surgery under local anesthesia, which had very little effect.
The entire week I was very ill, feeling constant weakness besides pain that subsided somewhat after tooth extraction but still I could not sleep without taking sleeping aids. In the morning still sleepy after the pill I had to go to work. It would take me a lot of suffering to sit through the working day and by the end I was unable to drive or use public transportation. My son Lubomyr had to pick me up and drive me home. At home before bed I always took my blood pressure. For the last 10 years I have been hypertonic keeping my blood pressure under control by medications. Now every evening the upper level was always elevated and my pulse was over 100.
By that time I could not normally sleep, eat or work because of constant pain that I tried to numb with over-the-counter painkillers, but to fall asleep I had to take prescription medications with codeine. My job requires clear head and fast thinking, so my productivity suffered significantly, not to mention that I had to leave work to see doctors. After my oral surgery I had to see Dr. Brayer twice fearing that my constant pain was the result of infection spreading into the bone.
On May 29, 2009 I had to leave work and see Dr. Brayer again because my condition worsened. He said that my weakness was due to high doses of antibiotic and recommended lowering the dose of erythromycin twice, though it could result in bacteria that were causing infection might become erythromycin-resistant, which would be very dangerous for me as I am allergic to penicillin and my choices of antibiotics are very limited. Still I had no other option but to follow his advice. He made a follow-up appointment for June 2, 2009.
All this time I was in severe pain and I told Dr. Brayer about it when I came for a follow-up. He concluded that the reason for my constant pain was that as a result of infection the nerve that runs along the jaw to the ear got inflamed. He prescribed me medication precisely for that and it finally helped.
Here is brief summary of my complaint. Dr. Phan neglected to treat my tooth immediately and prescribed wrong antibiotic and wrongfully recommended heat application instead of cold. As a result of such procrastination and wrong treatment my tooth infection had propagated so far that the tooth was lost as was the bridge that the tooth was holding. I also lost my benefits by using all my sick leave and some of my personal leave time. I suffered from severe pain for four weeks altogether and I am still facing the charges for new implants that will replace the lost tooth and the bridge. I want you to consider whether Dr. Phan is competent enough to further continue her practice.