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“Feel Good Dentist” Paroled from Prison

A dentist, who spent more than twenty-five years in prison after being convicted of the murder of three patients from improper use of anesthesia, has been paroled.

The case involving California dentist Tony Protopappas has interested Atlanta dental malpractice lawyers for a while now. Protopappas had a thriving dental practice in Costa Mesa. Everything was going great until 1980, when three patients including two women and a thirteen-year-old girl mysterously died after they had been administered anesthesia during dental treatment at his clinic.

In 1982, Protopappas was charged with three counts of second-degree murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He had been granted parole in 2008, but the parole was overturned by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor based his decision on the fact that Protopappas had informed mental health evaluators that his staff, and not him, had been responsible for the deaths of the patients.

Last week, Protopappas officially exited prison. He has lost his dental license, and will never be able to start a practice again. But his lawyers says that he hopes to find a job working at a dental lab.

Improper or excessive use of anesthetics is linked to 50% of the deaths that occur in a dental office. There are several ways that a dentist can administer anesthesia improperly. Dentists may administer excessive doses of the drug (doses are decided depending on the patient’s body weight), administer the drug directly into a blood vessel, or combine anesthesia with other drugs. Excessive doses of anesthesia can cause reactions in the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Injection of the anesthetic into a blood vessel can immediately increase toxicity levels.