Is Your Child’s Dentist Using Dangerous Sedatives?
Posted in Medical Malpractice on September 20, 2021
Children who visit the dentist may require sedation for certain procedures, such as root canals or tooth extractions. While sedatives and anesthetic drugs are generally safe for dentists to administer to children, severe and sometimes life-threatening events can occur under sedation. A dentist may use a dangerous combination of drugs, administer a very high dosage, or failure to properly assess a patient’s medical history, leading to complications during the procedure.
If your child has been injured due to dangerous dental sedatives, you have the right to hold the dentist accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In these situations, it is important to speak with a Missouri dental malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
The Use of Dental Sedatives on Children
Dentists may use sedatives on children to numb pain, relieve anxiety, or induce sleep during invasive procedures. According to researchers, an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 pediatric dental sedations are performed in the United States each year.
Common types of pediatric sedatives include the following.
- Nitrous oxide
- Local anesthetics
- Intravenous medications
Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry require that at least two people are in the room at all times while a child is under sedation. One person would be the dentist or oral surgeon who performs the procedure, and the other party must be a medical anesthesiologist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, dentist anesthesiologist or second oral surgeon. Both parties must be trained to provide emergency life support in case of an adverse event.
The Risks of Pediatric Dental Sedatives
While the majority of these procedures occur without complications, very severe side effects can occur while a child is under sedation. A child’s airway can become obstructed during the procedure, preventing him or her from breathing properly. This can lead to a loss of oxygen and brain damage. In some cases, cardiac arrest may occur. Without prompt treatment, these conditions can lead to permanent disability and life-threatening complications.
Take, for example, the 2014 death of Hawaii toddler Finley Boyle. In December 2013, the three-year-old visited a dentist’s office in Kailua to undergo four root canals and required sedation. The dentist administered a combination of sedatives and anesthetic drugs. During the procedure, Finley stopped breathing and her oxygen levels began to drop. The child entered a coma and was placed on life support. Sadly, Finley never woke up and died a month later while in hospice care.
Finley’s story is only one example of the potentially devastating effects of dental sedatives. According to the family’s lawsuit against the dental office, staff had allegedly left Finley unmonitored for 26 minutes and failed to provide immediate CPR. As a result, Finley developed extensive brain damage.
Do You Need a Dental Malpractice Attorney?
While a child is sedated, it is important for a dentist and his or her staff to continuously monitor a child and adhere to the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Unfortunately, not all dentists uphold the proper standard of care while performing these procedures.
If your child suffered an injury or died while under dental anesthesia, you and your family deserve justice. In these situations, you could hold the dentist accountable for his or her actions through a malpractice lawsuit. A Missouri dental malpractice attorney can guide you through the litigation process and help your family secure the outcome you deserve. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.