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Dental procedure leads to fatal accident

Health care practitioners, besides physicians, can endanger their patients' lives. According to allegations from the Connecticut Department of Health, a dental procedure performed under anesthesia caused the death of a patient in February 2014. The dentist's license was placed under suspension in late April and he was ordered to stay away from patients because of this fatality and an alleged injury to another patient that resulted in a six-day hospital stay.

A 64-year-old female patient went to this dentist for 20 teeth extractions, implants and grafts. He was aware of her pre-existing medical issues and she received four medical clearances from other doctors.

However, problems purportedly arose near the end of the procedure. The dentist kept working on the patient despite being made repeatedly aware that her oxygen levels were falling. After receiving an injection with the reversal agent, the patient started to wake up and asked to stop the procedure but the dentist kept working on placing the implants. The dentist also learned that one of his monitors was not working.

After the situation allegedly became worse and a second plea by assistants to call 911, the dentist agreed to call an ambulance. The patient was rushed to Bay State Medical Center where she was pronounced dead 59 minutes after the ambulance arrived.

The Department of Health alleged that the dentist failed to respond to changes in this patient's condition, did not interrupt the procedure to assess and evaluate and failed to administer any other emergency medications when the patient's condition continued to deteriorate. A Hampden dentist who was asked to review the case charged that the patient did not have to die to receive this dental treatment and that the practitioner's negligence caused her death.

The probate court received notification of the potential for a wrongful death claim. The state Dental Commission will hold a hearing on June 18. It will ultimately rule on license revocation, suspension for additional time or clear him of the allegations and reinstate his dental license.

Families of victims of medical malpractice and other negligence may be entitled to compensation for the loss of a loved one. They should seek guidance on their right to damages.

Source: WFSB, "Dentist sees license suspended after several patient problems," Jill Konopka and Rob Polansky, May 15, 2014

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