Surgical errors at the dentist cause child’s death in New Jersey

Visiting a dentist is not fun for adults, let alone children, but at some point all of us use the services of dentists for routine cleanings, treatments or even surgical extraction of teeth. Most of us do not consider dental sedation to be a dangerous practice, since it is a routine practice.

Sedation may be necessary to perform a procedure or to calm an anxious patient, but if administered negligently, surgical mistakes during sedation can lead to serious injury and even death.

Residents of New Jersey are not immune to surgical errors during a dental procedure and may be interested to know that, earlier this year, a New Jersey dentist was under investigation after a three-year-old died while having a cavity filled under a local anesthetic.

The child was also restrained in a papoose-like device for the procedure, during which he stopped breathing. The dentist had previously lost a 6-year-old patient in 2004 under similar conditions, and while he faced administrative actions including suspension of his license and probation, his license was not revoked.

According to the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, over the last 15 years, at least 31 children have died through dental sedation. The American Dental Association has guidelines for dentists on the safe and effective use of sedation, but how often the guidelines are followed is unclear.

Providers of health and dental care have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. Negligent care resulting in harm or even death may entitle families to just compensation for the injury or death of a loved one.

Source: Huffington Post, “Dental Sedation Responsible For At Least 31 Child Deaths Over 15 Years,” Harry Bradford, July 13, 2012

Posted in: Surgical Errors