Many people have likely have visited a dentist for a routine cleaning or some other dental health issue. No one expects to suffer a serious or fatal error at the dentist office. In fact, most people may not even categorize dental errors as medical malpractice. But, the reality is that dentist’s errors fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice and the same principle of negligence applies.
Our Connecticut residents may find it interesting to learn that a Connecticut dentist was charged with negligent homicide for the death of a 64-year-old woman. At the time of the fatal incident, which occurred about a year ago, the 64-year-old was undergoing teeth extractions, as well as getting dental implants and grafts. At least two dental assistants allege that during the procedure the woman exhibited declining vitals such as a low oxygen level. Even though the assistants informed the dentist of the dangerously unstable and low oxygen levels, and asked him if they should call 911, he said no. Furthermore, at least one of the monitors the 64-year-old woman was hooked up to was not working.
According to reports, the dentist did stop the procedure briefly but then continued despite the dangerously unstable oxygen levels. Reports indicate that the woman’s oxygen levels continued to fall, and the dental assistant pleaded with him to call 911. By the time he agreed and 911 responders reported to the dental clinic and transported the woman to nearby hospital, over 45 minutes had passed and she was pronounced dead.
It is hard for many to imagine the loss of a loved one under such circumstances. Healthcare providers, which include doctors, nurses, dentists and surgeons, have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. If a healthcare provider fails to do so, and a patient is left in a worsened condition due to a surgical error for instance, then that healthcare provider may be negligent. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to assess one’s specific facts to determine if malpractice occurred or not.
Source: Fox 2 Now, “Dentist charged in death of patient after trying to remove 20 teeth,” Feb. 21, 2015