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Medical and dental malpractice require a finding of negligence for there to be legal liability. In Connecticut and elsewhere, the rule is that the negligence must then be found to be a substantial cause of the injury sustained. Thus, if the professional’s service to the patient falls below a minimally acceptable standard of care recognized by other professionals in the community, and causes injury, then malpractice may be found. Anesthesia mistakes are one area that can result in liability to the patient.

A recent news report describes the tragic story of a 23-year-old mother with two children who went into the dentist for extraction of wisdom teeth. While under general anesthesia, she suffered cardiac arrest and went into a coma. To not wake up from that kind of a routine minor surgery is a nightmare that cannot be imagined. A nightmare, however, that is all too real to the family and two small children of the woman.

Apparently because her dentist also has a medical degree, the surgery for the wisdom teeth took place in the dentist’s office instead of the hospital. News reports also say that the dentist, who practices in Hawaii, advertises his skills and certification with anesthesia. The problem is that the recognized proper procedure is to have a separate specialist administering the anesthesia so as to avoid medication errors.

For a dentist to try and select, monitor and administer the right kind and dosage of anesthesia while at the same time extracting all four wisdom teeth is an invitation to disaster. Indeed, that invitation was apparently answered. The woman has a four-year-old and a three-month old baby. At this point, the cause of the tragedy is unknown; however, anesthesia mistakes have to be considered high on the short list.

Anesthesia mistakes occur in Connecticut and every other state during surgical procedures. Unfortunately, the patient has no idea that the proper procedure is not being used. That only becomes apparent after the catastrophic results have shocked and grieved a family. In this case, the actual cause is unknown at this time, but other than the administration of general anesthesia, there are few other likely suspects to reasonably associate with this outcome.

Source: myfox8.com, Mother in coma after getting surgery on wisdom teeth, No author, March 23, 2014

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