Teenage Dental Patient Dies After Sedation

Dental patients trust that their dentists are knowledgeable and experienced in the practice of their profession. Sometimes, dental patients are seriously injured when under the care of their dentist. There can be many reasons that might cause a serious injury while undergoing a dental procedure, including medical malpractice.

A 13-year-old dental patient died this year. Her parents were told she would be placed under light sedation for a dental procedure. Four drugs were administered to her intravenously in order to sedate her. After the drugs were administered, the teenager collapsed. She was transported first to one hospital, where she was diagnosed with respiratory arrest, and then she was flown to a second hospital. There she was placed on a ventilator. Despite an operation and drug treatments she was unable to recover, and was pronounced dead that same evening.

Her death was recently ruled accidental by the coroner’s office. The coroner said that lack of oxygen to her brain caused her death. Among the drugs administered to her was the drug propofol, the same drug that contributed to Michael Jackson’s death.

In the past year alone, six pediatric dental procedure deaths have occurred. Children, in particular, run out of oxygen more quickly than adults because of their smaller lung capacity. Pediatric dentists must be aware that younger patients are more susceptible to injuries in certain circumstances.

Most dental offices are not equipped to respond to medical emergencies. When anesthesia complications arise, dentists must react quickly. Interestingly, the 81-year-old dentist involved in this case no longer administers intravenous drugs to his patients.

The Ohio Dental Board is currently investigating this case.

Source: The Chronicle-Telegram, “Teen’s death while sedated for dental work ruled accidental,” Cindy Leise, 8 April 2011

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