When a Routine Trip to the Dentist Ends in Brain Damage
The use of sedation drugs when performing dental procedures on small children can lead to severe brain damage. Several young children have been injured and others have died from the effects of sedation in the dentist chair resulting in multiple medical malpractice suits. An ABC News investigation has found that some dentists, especially those not properly trained in administering sedation drugs to children, sedate young children for the simplest of procedures like routine cleanings, to increase their profit.
Recent Cases Resulting in Tragedy
In recent cases causing brain damage to children, the children were administered mixtures of sedatives. Most of the sedatives used were not necessary.
Three-year-old Finely Boyle died after suffering severe brain damage when the mixture of drugs she was given caused her to go into cardiac arrest in the dentist’s office. Her treating dentist did not know how to revive Finley and left the child to find a pediatrician in the building to perform CPR.
For young Neveah Hall, the use of sedatives and a restraining device led to multiple seizures. The dentist negligently delayed emergency assistance for hours while trying to treat the seizures himself with the drug Halcion. Neveah suffered a severe brain injury that has left her with vision problems and unable to talk or walk.
Prevention is Key to Protecting Children
Supervising and teaching children the importance of good oral health practices at a young age is a step in the right direction to prevent extensive dental procedures. But finding a reputable dentist is important too. When in doubt about a dentist, parents can find out through the state licensure board whether a dental professional has been found at fault in a malpractice lawsuit.
Parents should voice their concerns about sedation to their child’s dentist. They should have an in-depth discussion about general anesthesia and its risks, and they should evaluate the pros and cons when making a decision about treatment. The first question should be whether the procedure and the sedation are medically necessary.
A Dallas Morning News investigation estimates that about one dental patient dies every other day in the United States. Many victims are young children who were over-sedated. Without complete data from state boards on deaths, it is impossible to determine exactly how many victims lose their lives to the dentist.