You are here

AAOIC eNews Summer 2021

Read the X-rays You Take – to Prevent Malpractice Claims

No orthodontist enjoys having a malpractice claim made against him/her, and if it is made in the form of a lawsuit, that is especially stressful. The main cause of loss that results in significant anguish to the doctor and frequently results in the payment of high settlement dollars by the company is failure to recognize and refer a radiolucency.

Many times, these radiolucencies go unnoticed by the doctor for a period of time in spite of progress X-rays because the X-rays are not being read carefully. Those radiolucencies often denote tumors that if left in the mouth to grow may cause the patient significant injury.

At AAOIC we have handled claims involving recognition delays ranging from 10 months to 5 years.  Claim payments range from $50,000 to $350,000, depending on the amount of damage and the degree of perceived liability. The tumors range from Ameloblastomas to Giant Cell Granulomas. None handled so far have been malignant.  Should that occur, the doctor’s anguish at the oversight will be worse, and the claim settlement value significantly higher.

Orthodontists do not cause these tumors, nor are you required to diagnose them. You are required to refer any suspicious radiolucencies to an oral surgeon, maxillofacial radiologist, or oral pathologist for diagnosis. In order to refer, first you must see that there is a potential problem.

Take good quality X-rays, at appropriate intervals during treatment and READ the X-rays carefully. If you see something suspicious, immediately tell the patient/parent, and refer the patient. Do not take a chance. Most of the cases AAOIC has handled involve children. How badly will you feel if one of your young patients (or any patient) sustains permanent damage because you failed to notice a radiolucency on an X-ray? 


Managing the Risk of a Negative Claim

Malpractice claims involving development or exacerbation of periodontal disease can result in major litigation and high dollar claim settlements. The defense process of these claims is difficult for the doctors. Litigation is usually contentious and time-consuming. Depending on the number of teeth involved and the plaintiff's sympathy factor, the settlement amounts can be very high. What's an orthodontist to do?
Learn More

Risk Management Courses are Available to Help You Minimize Malpractice Claim Exposure

AAOIC’s “Doctors Risk Management Program 2021 is available as a webinar on both the AAO and AAOIC websites. The speakers are Dr. Robert Varner and Ms. Elizabeth Franklin, both of whom have significant experience handling and evaluating orthodontic malpractice claims.  There is no cost to access the webinar.  Take and pass the examination available at the end of the program for 1.5 hrs. CE credit. AAOIC insureds will be given 10% premium discount for two years.
Click here to access the program.


At the 2021 AAO Virtual Annual Session, Dr. Terry Pracht will present a 65-minute risk management program entitled “Doctor, You are About to be Sued and You Could Have Avoided It.”  It will be presented Sunday, June 27, 2021, 11:25-12:30 EDT.

Dr. Pracht is experienced at reviewing and evaluating malpractice claims for AAOIC.  He will address the most common causes of orthodontic claim litigation and discuss practice management activity to alleviate or minimize exposure to errors and/or problems that become claims.




Corporate Entity Coverage

Did you know that if you are a practice owner with a corporate entity, or you are a partner in a Partnership or a shareholder in a Professional Corporation, that the corporate entity is at risk if it is named in a malpractice lawsuit?  And further that, if the corporation is not named as an insured on your policy, AAOIC WILL NOT be able to provide a defense in the event of malpractice litigation?  Not having your Professional Corporation named on your AAOIC malpractice insurance policy will be a major issue!  


If insured with AAOIC, please check your current malpractice policy Declaration.  We will provide coverage only for the individuals and entity(ies) named.


If you are incorporated and do not see all entities listed, please contact our Underwriting Department immediately at 800-240-2650 or email underwriting@aaortho.orgMake sure you and your corporate entity(ies) are properly covered! 


Can’t Find Your Current Policy Declaration?

Do not worry, you can access and print or save the declaration page of your current policy from your computer or smart device.  To access your current renewed policy online, visit:  and click the ‘Renew’ button.


If not already logged in, you must enter your AAO member number to access your most recent policy.  Click the ‘Print Dec Page’ tab. 


Email Addresses Are Important!

When it is time to renew your AAOIC malpractice insurance policy, we will notify you via US Mail approximately 60 days prior to the expiration date of the policy and that notice will be sent to the last address that you provided to our office.

We will continue to remind you via email approximately every 15 days until you renew your policy. We do this not to inundate your email box but because insurance coverage is extremely important. When your policy expires, you begin to self-insure in the event of a loss. Do not let that happen. Keep your insurance coverage current.


Remember to keep AAOIC informed of a good email address or provide a second contact if necessary, and please read those emails from us.

AAOIC to Offer $25 First Year Occurrence and Claims-Made Policies to Recent Graduates

If you are new to practice, there is no better time than now to consider AAOIC - The Orthodontists Malpractice Insurance®. The AAOIC Board of Directors recently approved a $25 first year policy, both for occurrence and claims-made coverage for recent graduates who will be practicing in most areas of the United States.  They also approved 40% and 5% discounts for the second and third years of the occurrence policy form and 50% and 25% discounts for the second and third years of the claims-made policy form. 


Couple these discounts with the 10% risk management discount and the typical dividend of 20%, paid by premium credit, and insuring with AAOIC should be irresistible.  Although dividends are not guaranteed and vary from year to year, AAOIC has paid dividends thirteen of the last fifteen years!  Competitors do not pay dividends to insureds!  Only to investors in their companies.


AAOIC will not settle without your consent and all claims continue to be managed by an experienced claims department and a committee of your peers to ensure the best possible outcome for you in the event of a lawsuit.  Please contact our broker, Pearl Insurance at 800-622-0344 for a quote. 


Steps to Follow in the Event of a Patient Complaint or Claim
If you receive a patient complaint or claim, consider the following recommendations.


1.    Call your insurance representative. If you have a conversation with a patient or a family member who has expressed dissatisfaction with the treatment, give your insurance representative a call to discuss what happened and what to do.
2.    Have your information on hand. You will need to provide key information from the patient's record. Access to the file or computer record during the telephone call will save time.
3.    Anticipate a return call. Make sure you leave telephone and fax numbers so that your insurance representative can contact you. If you are insured with the AAO Insurance Company (a Risk Retention Group) (AAOIC) and have encountered an incident or claim, contact AAOIC Claims Representative Jessica Kaesberg, Shannon Hall, or AAOIC Claims Manager Elizabeth Franklin at 401 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7816. The AAOIC claims phone line number is 800-240-2650. Click on Claims.  The AAOIC welcomes the opportunity to work with you.