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Dental patient dies after anesthesia complications

| Jun 10, 2021 | Malpractice |

Like other medical professionals in Colorado and elsewhere, dentists must uphold a certain standard of care. When they don’t, nerve damage, infections and other complications could cause painful injuries. Such injuries could be debilitating or even deadly. The following case of dental malpractice was reported recently. 

Three hours of root canal treatment 

An endodontist performed root canal therapy on a man in his 40s. Reportedly, the endodontist knew of the patient’s medical history related to liver disease and hepatitis. The procedure took over three hours, during which time the patient was under anesthesia. Court documents indicate that the patient received 20 milligrams of midazolam, 45 milligrams of diazepam and 40 milligrams of morphine intravenously during the procedure. 

The complications 

The man returned home after the procedure. According to his wife, he remained sleeping, and his shallow breathing and snoring raised her concern. When she could not wake him, she called the office of the dental practitioner. She was advised that his drowsiness had been caused by the administration of morphine close to the procedure’s end to ensure that he remained sedated. However, her husband became unresponsive within the next hour, and when he stopped breathing, she called 9-1-1. 

The man was pronounced dead sometime after being admitted to the hospital. According to court documents, toxicology tests determined no presence of alcohol or other drugs in the deceased man’s blood. However, the cause of death was reported as aspiration pneumonia, a condition caused by the combination of the mentioned CNS-depressant medications. 

The surviving wife pursued financial relief by filing a dental malpractice lawsuit in a civil court. Ultimately, the endodontist agreed to settle for an amount exceeding $1 million. Anyone in Colorado who believes a dentist failed to uphold a reasonable standard of care could consider seeking damage recovery through the civil justice system. 

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