Dental surgery is a given source of medical negligence claims in Oregon and elsewhere. Incidents of dental negligence are well documented, and they often involve chronic painful conditions that are determined to be medical malpractice. Rarely, however, does a dental patient die from the negligence of an oral surgeon.

In another state, a high school student died during a standard wisdom tooth extraction in June 2015. Her parents sued the surgeon recently for medical malpractice and wrongful death damages. Whenever a standard procedure precedes the patient's death, an investigation for medical or, in this case, dental negligence is in order.

The state Board of Dentistry investigated and placed the defendant oral surgeon under indefinite restrictions. The lawsuit claims that the defendant incorrectly administered anesthesia, failed to provide monitoring during surgery and used inexperienced dental assistants during the procedure. The complaint also points to lax planning by the defendant and the inability to handle an emergency where the patient went into cardiac arrest. Specifically, the suit accuses the doctor of placing the girl under anesthesia without using the proper monitoring equipment.

Just as in any other medical malpractice case, expert testimony and evidence is necessary to prove the plaintiff's theory of negligence. Death during the extraction of wisdom teeth does on occasion occur. When it does happen, it is usually due to some aspect of the administration of anesthesia, which must always be closely monitored.

This is because in some patients there may be wide variations in major bodily functions, such as blood pressure. Anesthesia may have different effects in different people. It is necessary to keep a constant watch on the fluctuations in the patient's bodily functions during an unstable period caused by the drugs. These types of medical malpractice cases, which involve dental negligence, do occur occasionally in Oregon and elsewhere.

Source: startribune.com, "Family of Eden Prairie teen who died after wisdom teeth procedure sues Edina dentist", Paul Walsh, Jan. 29, 2017