On January 16, 2019, 65 families filed a dental malpractice lawsuit agsinst a dental clinic in California, its dentists, and others, alleging that their children contracted a serious bacterial infection that resulted in significant harm during pulpotomies performed at the California dental clinic between April 2016 and July 2016 (500 children had pulpotomies performed at the California dental clinic during that period of time).
The families’ dental malpractice lawsuit alleges that a potentially life-threatening bacterium, Mycobacterium abscessus, was found in several samples of the dental clinic’s water system. The contractor that installed and maintained the dental clinic’s water filtration system was also named a defendant in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants failed to sanitize and properly maintain the water system at the dental clinic.
The children referenced in the California dental medical malpractice lawsuit were all between 3 and 9 years old at the time of their pulpotomies. The lawsuit alleges that hundreds of the pulpotomies were unnecessary and that dentists received bonuses and other incentives to perform the procedures (all of the children represented in the lawsuit are on Medi-Cal and are Latino). The number of dental malpractice lawsuits filed against the California dental clinic now numbers 150.
Many of the child victims suffered loss of permanent teeth and required hospitalization, and several required months of intravenous antibiotics. Some of the dental malpractice victims required partial removal of their jaws. The California dental clinic had been forced to close twice during 2016 due to testing that showed the bacterium in the water.
On September 15, 2016, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued a press release in which it stated, in part: “The County of Orange Health Officer today issued a Health Officer Order that requires the Children’s Dental Group of Anaheim to cease the use of that facility’s on-site water system for any patient dental procedures. The Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Public Health Laboratory has confirmed that multiple samples taken from the dental office’s internal on-site water system on September 7, 2016 have tested positive for mycobacterium that is similar to the Mycobacteria chelonae/abscessus that has caused infections in 1 confirmed and 9 probable pediatric patient cases.”
On December 16, 2016, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued a press release in which it stated, in part: “The County of Orange Health Officer today issued a Health Officer Order that closes the Children’s Dental Group of Anaheim (CDG) due to positive laboratory results for Mycobacterium in CDG’s internal water system. The Health Care Agency (HCA) conducted testing of CDG’s internal water system in compliance with the initial Health Officer Order issued on September 15, 2016. Despite CDG’s replacement of the on-site water system, HCA’s Public Health Laboratory confirmed on December 15, 2016, that multiple samples taken from the dental office’s new water system tested positive for Mycobacterium.”
On January 17, 2019, the Orange County Health Care Agency stated “The total case count has been updated to 71 total cases; 22 confirmed, and 49 probable. The age range remains 2 to 11 years, and the pulpotomy date range remains 2/4-8/20/2016 for all cases.”
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries (or worse) due to possible dental malpractice in California or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a California dental malpractice attorney, or a dental malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your dental malpractice claim for you and file a dental malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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