Millions of Americans visit their dentists routinely for check-ups and teeth cleanings. Typically, such visits are without complications, but occasionally, serious issues with treatment may lead to claims of malpractice. One incident garnered national attention when a three-year-old died after visiting her dentist. According to an article from the Huffington Post, the family of the deceased child is now suing the dentist office for improperly administering anesthesia that resulted in serious brain damage and death to the child. This incident has sparked a national discourse analyzing pediatric dentistry practices and the precautions that dental professionals should take with young patients.
According to the Huffington Post article and the sources it cites, this past December, three-year-old Finley Boyle visited her dentist in Hawaii to have four root canal procedures. At the office, the 38-pound girl was given a potent dosage of sedatives including the maximum dosage of Demerol and Hydroxyzine and 40% more than the maximum dosage of chloral hydrate. Local law required constant monitoring of the vital signs of any patient given sedatives. However, a 26-minute period passed without any monitoring of Finley’s vital signs, during which her oxygen saturation levels dipped drastically low. The oxygen deprivation, coupled with other reactions to the anesthesia, caused Finley to suffer massive brain damage, cardiac arrest, and shortly thereafter, Finley’s death. Her parents filed a negligence suit against the dentist, alleging that the injuries and death of their daughter were the result of improper and excessive medication. The lawsuit also claims that the dentist office was ill-prepared to handle their toddler’s emergency, having to seek the assistance of a pediatrician’s office elsewhere in the building and depriving their daughter of immediate CPR.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) releases a patient’s guide to pediatric dentistry annually. The most recent publication explains that general anesthesia may be used on young children who require extensive dental treatment. However, AAPD advises that when children receive dental treatment while under general anesthesia, that treatment should “feature special monitoring and emergency equipment and trained support personnel.” According to the parents’ allegations, Finley’s dentist failed in these respects.
The attorneys at Parker Scheer LLP have represented clients who suffered oral injuries fromdental malpractice. If you or a loved one has sustained an such an injury, contact Parker Scheer LLP today for a free consultation.