A dental malpractice wrongful death case has been filed against the dentist and dental practice who treated a 2 year-old boy. In a horrible set of circumstances, the toddler was under general anesthesia while having 9 teeth extracted. The oxygen tank that he was hooked up to and which was there in case of an emergency that was supposed to save him was not working properly. The allegations in the lawsuit include that a staff member at the dentist office repeatedly disabled the heart monitor alarm that the boy was hooked up to.
While the medical examiner listed the cause of death as “undetermined,” it is clear from the facts, as reported, that the boy died as a result of the dental treatment he received on the day of his death. General anesthesia is especially dangerous when used on the very young, very old, and those who are not healthy. Proper and working equipment must be utilized and monitoring must be vigilant to avoid this type of horrible result.
During the lawsuit, discovery can be utilized to uncover what exactly happened in this tragedy and why? As with all other medical providers, the dentist and the anesthesiologist in this case must always comply with the standard of care and any violation of the standard of care is considered dental malpractice or negligence. In most states, a properly trained anesthesiologist (or a medical provider who is similarly trained and licensed to monitor anesthesia delivery) must be on hand and monitoring a dental patient when they are under general anesthesia. This requirement would also include testing all of the equipment associated with the procedure prior to the administration of the general anesthesia. It appears in this case that some of the equipment was not properly working or not hooked up correctly and this is what apparently caused or substantially contributed to the death.