When most Louisiana residents think about going to the dentist, they probably do not think that they might suffer fatal injuries. However, children may face higher injury risk during their trips to the dentist, as evidenced by one tragic case out of Hawaii. A family is mourning the death of a 3-year-old girl after an anesthesia errorleft the child effectively brain-dead. Family members allege that the dentist in the case failed to monitor the child’s status throughout the dental procedure. Further, the dentist is accused of misdiagnosis and overmedicating the young patient.
Official reports show that the dentist used a fatal combination of sedatives without adjusting the dosage to account for the drugs’ interaction with each other. Further, the dentist failed to monitor the child’s respiration and blood oxygen information throughout the procedure; that information is supposed to be noted with some frequency throughout such an event. Even more tragic is the assertion that the procedure, which was supposed to correct dental problems on 10 teeth, was determined to have been unnecessary by another dentist. The child was scheduled to receive root canals on four of her teeth, and she would have the rest treated with traditional fillings.
Medical records show that the child was not properly resuscitated after the incident occurred. The girl’s mother only realized that there was a problem when she saw emergency responders arrive at the dentist’s office. That woman, a registered nurse, claims that a pediatrician was also summoned to help with the immediate aftermath of the situation, but the child’s condition was terminal. She died in a local hospice in early January after suffering injuries on Dec. 3.
Dentists, like physicians, must be responsible enough to provide appropriate care for their patients. In this case, the child suffered fatal injuries because the dentist was greedy and wanted to receive payment for unnecessary medical procedures. Now, the child’s family will seek financial compensation from that dentist for negligence. Money from such an award may be used to pay for medical costs, emotional distress, pain and suffering and a variety of other civil claims related to the child’s fatal brain injury.
Source: USA Today, “Hawaii 3-year-old dies after dental procedures” William M. Welch, Jan. 04, 2014