Lawsuit: Teen died from oxygen deprivation during dental procedure

Chicago patients may feel some pain and discomfort for a few days after getting their wisdom teeth pulled. Fortunately, the recovery from this surgery is fairly quick, and many teens and young adults experience no complications after the surgery. But for one teen, a routine wisdom teeth surgery resulted in a severe brain injury.

The teen never recovered from her injury. She died less than two weeks after the operation.

What went wrong? How could something so terrible happen during a procedure that is performed thousands of times every year in Illinois and throughout the entire country? Was the teen’s death avoidable?

When patients have their wisdom teeth pulled, they are often given an anesthetic. Although general anesthesia is commonly used during wisdom teeth surgeries, general anesthesia can be very dangerous when patients begin to experience side effects that are not properly monitored by doctors.

According to a lawsuit that was filed after the 17-year-old girl’s death in 2011, Maryland doctors failed to notice that the teen’s heart rate was slowing down during the procedure from the anesthesia. Because the medical issue was not addressed by doctors soon enough during the teen’s operation, the teen’s brain was severely deprived of oxygen. This caused the teen to suffer a brain injury and to slip into a coma. The lawsuit argued that the teen’s surgeon and anesthesiologist should have revived the teen as soon as they noticed that her heart rate was slowing down. However, doctors ignored the issue and the teen’s brain was cut off from receiving enough oxygen.

The teen died 10 days after the operation. An autopsy revealed that she died from lack of oxygen to the brain. The autopsy also showed that the teen was healthy. Doctors tried to argue that the teen suffered from a preexisting medical condition that contributed to her death; however, the autopsy suggested that the teen did not have any preexisting medical conditions.

The teen’s family reported that they settled their lawsuit last month. The lawsuit was settled out of court. The amount of the settlement has remained confidential.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Malpractice claim in teen’s wisdom teeth death settled out of court,” Kevin Rector, April 3, 2013

  • Our firm provides counsel to patients who have suffered severe brain injuries due to medical negligence. Our firm also provides counsel to families who have had to experience the wrongful death of a loved one due to medical negligence. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Chicago general anesthesia oxygen deprivation injury lawyers page.

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