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Suppose that a person paid $18k for a procedure to remove teeth and replace with dentures. After the extraction and sizing the dentures - the dentist told her that the dentist can't complete the first procedure without a 2nd procedure that costs $9k. They can't fit the new dentures without removing more teeth. is that legal? Does the patient have any claim against the dentist?

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  • Regarding the additional work, you're entitled to get a second opinion—that is you can go to another dentist and ask them to evaluate whether or not the initial denture work can be completed without the additional extractions. If they are necessary, a dentist may not be able to ethically complete the initial work until the additional extractions are done (eg if doing so would harm your wife in the long run or they're reasonably sure she would need the whole thing done over again soon).
    – Michael
    Aug 17, 2022 at 16:56

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It is legal for a doctor to charge for each procedure that they perform, so if it is necessary to remove more teeth, the doctor can charge for that additional removal.

A patient may not fully understand what the scope of their contract with the dentist is, thus one might think that they have paid $18K for a "complete solution", irrespective of what has to be done. More likely, the contract is for specific work, and if more work needs to be done, more money has to be paid. When a doctor (mechanic, contractor, lawyer...) gives you a ballpark figure for likely costs given their understanding of the work probably required – based on current knowledge – you should understand that as an estimate, which may be inaccurate given new discoveries. Of course, if a person knowingly and deliberately misrepresents the scope of work required, in order to persuade the customer to sign on with their service, that is probably legally actionable. If you can prove that the doctor actually knew that the scope of work was greater than what he claimed, you could have a legal case. Otherwise, you have the option of taking your business elsewhere, or paying the additional charges.

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  • Although, one feels that the removal of the teeth before stating that additional work needs to be done seems pretty close to the car mechanic scam where they disassemble your car before stating that more work needs to be done, and that they won't reassemble your car until you cough up more cash.
    – SCD
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:22

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