Child Dies During Dental Procedure But Autopsy Reveals No Cavities

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A 14-month-old child died during a trip to the dentist in Austin, TX. The dentist had intended to fill two cavities in baby teeth under anesthesia. The dentist’s purpose in using anesthesia was to calm jittery children so that the procedures could be performed. In total, the dentist wanted to do four crowns in addition to the two fillings for cavities. While under sedation, the dentist called 911 and the child was rushed to the hospital. Later on, the autopsy report stated: “One can only speculate as to why any treatment was performed considering no indication of dental disease or pathology.”

Was Dental Work Even Necessary In The First Place?

Common sense tells us that dental work on baby teeth, let alone sedation dentistry, is probably unnecessary (unless there was an urgent problem to deal with). It makes it even worse when the autopsy does not find any evidence of dental disease in the child. In this case, it appears that the dentist oversold the need for dental services to the parents who trusted him. While this case occurred in Texas and not in Florida, had this case happened in Florida then it would be the subject of a medical malpractice case.

Section 766.111, Florida Statutes states that:

(1) No health care provider licensed pursuant to chapter 458, chapter 459, chapter 460, chapter 461, or chapter 466 shall order, procure, provide, or administer unnecessary diagnostic tests, which are not reasonably calculated to assist the health care provider in arriving at a diagnosis and treatment of a patient’s condition.

(2) A violation of this section shall be grounds for disciplinary action pursuant to s. 458.331, s. 459.015, s. 460.413, s. 461.013, or s. 466.028, as applicable.

(3) Any person who prevails in a suit brought against a health care provider predicated upon a violation of this section shall recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

What If This Happened In Florida?

This case, if it happened in Florida, would likely be subject to this statute in that some diagnostic testing of some sort was likely done before the dentist recommended two fillings and four crowns to the parents. In a medical malpractice case against the dentist, claimants in Florida should be able to recover their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in addition to wrongful death damages. The anesthesiologist may have some degree of responsibility in this action as well depending on the dose, timing, or other facts related to the sedation.

If You Have A Dental Malpractice Case In Florida, Call A Florida Dental Malpractice Attorney For Help With Your Case

If you have a medical malpractice issue in Florida that needs to be reviewed, please contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.


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October 29, 2016