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Patient dies during dental procedure

Although this case did not take place in New York, we felt that many of our Queens readers may find it interesting because of the field of medicine in which it took place: dentistry. Dental malpractice cases are not as widely reported on as medical malpractice, but it is important to remember that serious harm and even death can occur when dentists and other dental professionals act negligently.

In the tragic case, a Connecticut dentist was in the process of pulling a 64-year-old patient’s teeth – 20 teeth in a single visit – when the woman lost consciousness. According to a report from the state Department of Public Health, the dentist’s assistant “begged” him to stop working on the patient, but the dentist refused, stating that he wanted to complete the procedure (which also involved putting implants into the patient’s mouth). It was the assistant that eventually left the room to call 911, but it was too late: the patient had already passed away.

The dentist’s license was suspended, with the report stating that he “did not timely and/or properly respond to [the patient’s] oxygen desaturation and/or respiratory distress and/or cardio-pulmonary distress.” A hearing before the state dental commission is scheduled for next month.

Sadly, this is not the first potential instance of malpractice for the dentist. He was sued for malpractice in 2009, accused of performing “shoddy” dental work. And last December, a 55-year-old man had to be rushed to the hospital after his throat pack was sucked into his lungs. Again, as in the latest situation, assistants attempted to repeatedly notify the dentist of the harm, to no avail.

It is unfortunate that medical professionals are still allowed to practice after such clear examples of negligence and malpractice. Hopefully, the state board takes action at the dentist’s hearing.

Source: New York Daily News, “Connecticut dentist suspended after patient dies while having 20 teeth in one visit,” Sasha Goldstein, May 19, 2014

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