Skokie dentist sued for allegedly dropping dental tool down patient’s throat

When you go to the dentist, you do not likely anticipate that you will swallow a dental tool and later need multiple surgeries to extricate the foreign object. Bernard Bell, a 92-year-old Skokie man, asked his attorney to file a lawsuit against Skokie dentist, Dr. Toni Ellis Wolf, with allegations of medical malpractice, claiming Wolf “dropped a metal instrument down his throat, causing the device to get stuck in his stomach.[i]” The Chicago Sun Times article by Luke Wilusz, also states, “According to the suit, Bell experienced “pain in his throat and esophagus, and sleeplessness, irritability and general discomfort prior to and immediately after removal of the subject dental tool.”

Dental tool allegedly dropped down 92-year-old Bernard Bell's throat.
Dental tool allegedly dropped down 92-year-old Bernard Bell’s throat.

The complaint filed by attorney Raphael Strzelecki of RDS Law Offices in Skokie, alleges two counts of medical malpractice with relief sought against Dr. Wolf in excess of $50,000 for damages suffered by Bell. In the same Sun Times article Strzelecki was quoted, stating, “Nobody walks into a dental office and expects to walk out with a dental tool in their stomach.”

In Illinois, “In an action for medical professional negligence the plaintiff must prove by expert testimony that the defendant physician failed to conform to the applicable standard of care unless the alleged negligence is grossly apparent or is obvious to a layman.[ii]” Professionals are judged by a standard of care (they should use and exercise the same degree of knowledge, skill and ability) that “an ordinary careful professional would exercise under similar circumstances.[iii]

When a lawsuit is filed against a professional for something such as medical malpractice, the State of Illinois can get involved and might conduct its own independent investigation into exactly what happened and whether its own discipline is necessary. Professional licensure issues are addressed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).[iv]

If you are regulated by the IDFPR and need advice on what to do if you learn of an inquiry regarding your practice, do not panic; Michael V. Favia & Associates offers tips on dealing with the IDFPR located on their Illinois Licensing website. From the website, you can also submit your name and email to receive a more detailed article titled, “Summary of the Disciplinary Process and 10 Tips for Responding to an IDFPR Inquiry.”

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist with analysis and advice on a difficult IDFPR matter. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

[i] Chicago Sun Times: August 6, 2013, Luke Wilusz, Lawsuit claims Skokie dentist dropped tool down man’s throat

[ii] Addison v. Whittenberg, 124 Ill.2d 287, 529 N.E.2d 552, 124 Ill.Dec. 571 (1988) (further citations omitted)(Cited in Section 105.00 (Professional Negligence) of the Circuit Court Civil Jury Instructions.

[iii] Northern Trust Co. v. Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hosp., 143 Ill.App.3d 479, 493 N.E.2d 6, 97 Ill.Dec. 524 (1st. Dist. 1986) (further citations omitted)(Cited in Section 105.00 (Professional Negligence) of the Circuit Court Civil Jury Instructions.