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3-year-old dies after botched dental surgery

Readers may have heard about the teenage girl who slipped into a coma after undergoing surgery recently to remove her tonsils. That story has made national headlines. For our readers in Mississippi, we have an eerily similar story about another possible instance of medical malpractice against a minor.

A 3-year-old girl is dead after undergoing dental surgery in December. Her dentist had examined her and determined that she needed work on 10 of her teeth, including four that needed root canals. It was later determined that most of the procedures were unnecessary, her parents say.

The girl’s parents brought her in for the series of procedures on Dec. 3. Despite the patient’s age and size, the dentist used a combination of drugs to knock her out. Each drug worked to enhance the power of the other. However, nobody kept regular measurements of the girl’s breathing and heart rate.

While in the recovery room, the girl hemorrhaged and suffered cardiac arrest. Emergency responders and a pediatrician in the building were called, but the girl never awoke. She went a persistent vegetative state.

Her parents say that the dentist, who has since closed her practice, misdiagnosed their daughter, overdosed her with anesthesia and failed to perform sufficient resuscitation attempts on their daughter.

This tragic tale shows how serious the consequences of medical malpractice can be. A young life can be ended when an incompetent or careless medical professional fails to live up to his or her duty of care. And no family should have to go through that.

Source: Jackson Sun, “Hawaii 3-year-old dies after dental procedures,” William M. Welch, Jan. 4, 2014

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