When a young child is in the hospital for a surgical procedure, the principals in attendance are usually a surgeon, nurses, and very importantly, an anesthesiologist whose primary responsibility is to properly administer an anesthetic to the patient so that the patient can comfortably endure the pain of the surgery. Surgeons in hospitals don’t administer anesthesia, and it’s for good reason. Administering anesthesia entails giving the patient potent, potentially deadly drugs and requires the expertise of a separate, trained physician to attend to this and this only. Monitoring patient’s vital signs i.e., heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels are a critical part of the procedure and need constant attention. But suppose instead surgery in a hospital your young child requires a surgical dental procedure. Will your children be given the same anesthetic care in the dentist’s office that they get at a hospital? The answer is an unqualified no and as a result, children are dying.
When you take your youngster to the dentist for a procedure other than a routine checkup, the dentist will normally administer an oral sedative to your child in the form of a cocktail of drugs to drink that will make him/her more cooperative and at ease in the dental chair. The drugs in question are a combination of sedatives: the narcotic painkiller Demerol and two anti-anxiety drugs such as valium and hydroxyzine. The goal of these drugs is to create a state of “conscious sedation” in the patient and the child should continue to respond to commands and be able to breathe normally on their own. The critical questions at issue are: does the recommended dosage of this cocktail actually work to sedate children, relieve their anxiety and make them cooperative to the dental procedure, and second, do dentists knowingly administer a larger dosage than recommended to gain the child’s full cooperation? Also, how equipped are dental offices, some operating on a shoestring in a spare room or shopping mall, to deal with the potentially deadly effects of these potent anesthetics?
If during the dental procedure the cocktail of anesthetics appear to be inadequate and the patient starts to wake up, the dentist will administer numbing injections of novocaine and the sedative “laughing gas”. If vital sign monitors indicate low blood oxygen levels or increased heart rates, doctors are instructed to terminate the dental procedure and attend to the blood and heart rate issues. Many dentists, however, in a rush to finish the job, get paid, and stay on schedule for their next customer, ignore the vital sign sensors and push on. After most dental sedations the patient is given a few minutes to recover and is back to normal but occasionally the patient dies.
Medical malpractice and doctor negligence include dentists who cut corners in an attempt to make profits. If you have had a child or any other family member injured or killed by the medical malpractice of a dentist, you should speak to a responsible, knowledgeable and experienced dental malpractice lawyer. Call our law firm today.
Article and Image Credit: Original Dallas Morning News Deadly Denistry Series