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Two Kids Die in Dental Chair

Posted on May 11, 2010

Parents should be aware that there have been two recent deaths of Florida children in the dental chair after receiving “conscious sedation.” That is a semi-awake condition that the child is put into with the help of drugs or gas. According to Health News Florida, in one case, Tampa dentist R. Andrew Powless sedated Cory Moore Jr. who died February 19, 2009. The family of Moore has filed a lawsuit against Powless, who does business as Florida Special Care Dentistry.

The parents charge that Powless should have known that Moore had eaten before the procedure, which is strictly prohibited because of the dangers of aspirating your food. That is exactly what happened to the 9-year-old boy. Not only did he choke on his food but the staff delayed in recognizing that the boy was choking. Moore’s mother says she told the staff the boy had eaten before the appointment, according to the lawsuit, which also says that the staff failed to provide “appropriate instructions” to the boy’s mother.

The other death involved a 5-year-old from Cedar Key, Dylan Shane Stewart, who died in the chair of a Gainesville dentist, Ronnie Grundset about two weeks ago. He too received conscious sedation. That death is under investigation. The boy was reportedly sedated with a substance chloral hydrate, which is an older drug that is commonly used.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that sedatives are used in children when there are a large number of cavities, the child is special needs, or they or their parents are just nervous and anxious. Pediatric Dental Health reports that conscious sedation is sometimes used when insurance companies refuse to pay for general anesthesia. It is essential that youngsters who undergo conscious sedation be monitored for any complications so they can be treated quickly and appropriately with emergency drugs and equipment.

Known complications of conscious sedation include oxygen desaturation, airway obstruction, apnea, vomiting, and cardiac arrest, among other reactions. A published study in Pediatrics in 2000 finds that inadequate skills of the resuscitator are a key to injury and death during a non-hospital conscious sedation, along with the effects of the medication on the child’s respiration. If you or a family member has suffered an adverse reaction to conscious sedation, let an experienced Florida injury attorney investigator uncover what went wrong so that you can hold the at-fault party responsible.