A 3-year-old died on January 3, 2014 in Hawaii , one month after she suffered cardiac arrest and became comatose during a dental procedure. According to the dental malpractice case filed by the little girl’s parents on December 30, 20113, the child was taken to a Kailua, Hawaii dentist on December 3, 2013, for four root canals. A technician at the dentist’s office administered five different medications, including Demarol, hydroxyzine, chloral hydrate, and nitrous oxide. When the child went into cardiac arrest, no one began CPR to revive the child. A pediatrician down the hall from the dentist’s office was summoned and tried to help the child but could not revive her.
The mother had brought her daughter to the dentist in November 2013 and was told that her child needed six fillings and four root canals. The child was brought back to the dentist on December 3, 2013, to have the four root canals done. The dental malpractice lawsuit alleges that the dentist negligently failed to have a plan in place to handle medical emergencies and that most of the dental procedures were unnecessary. The dentist, who has been a licensed dentist in Hawaii since July 2005 with no prior publicly reported disciplinary actions against her, has permanently closed her dental office.
According to the malpractice lawsuit, the dental records indicate that the dentist failed to monitor the child while she was sedated and her oxygen level was not checked for 26 minutes (it should have been checked every five minutes). She suffered severe brain damage that was confirmed by MRI and spent until the end of December in a persistent vegetative state in the hospital. She was transferred from the hospital to hospice, where she died with her family present.
Dental Malpractice Statistics
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) for the years 2002-2012, there were 18,052 Medical Malpractice Payment Reports (MMPR) and 13,004 Adverse Action Reports (AAR) for dentists in the United States. The states with the greatest number of MMPR were California (3,659), New York (2,846), and Florida (1,306). The states with the least number of MMPR were Delaware (18), North Dakota (22), and Wyoming (26). The states with the greatest number of AAR were Texas (1,372), California (933), and Arizona (683). The states with the least number of AAR were Delaware (7), South Dakota (9), and Hawaii (10).
Compare the NPDB numbers for dentists with the NPDB numbers for physicians (MDs and DOs): there were 131,616 Medical Malpractice Payment Reports (MMPR) and 52,825 Adverse Action Reports (AAR) for physicians in the United States for 2002 through 2012.
No parent should ever have to suffer the emotional trauma of losing a child. It is all the more tragic when the child is young and the cause of death was avoidable. The unexpected loss of a young child as a result of medical negligence should never happen and when it does, no one would question that the careless medical provider should be held fully responsible for the losses and harms that result from medical negligence, yet many states have enacted laws that limit (cap) the amount of noneconomic damages (for pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) that may be recovered for the losses. Is that just or fair?
If you or a member of your family may be the victim of dental malpractice in Hawaii or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Hawaii medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your dental malpractice claim for you and represent you in a dental malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or contact us on our toll-free line (800-295-3959) to be connected with dental malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your claim against a dentist.
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