Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
October 12, 2021
What can you tell me about the wrongful death lawsuit headline I saw recently. Curious to hear.
Yes. There is a wrongful death suit pending in Illinois against a dentist who markets himself as "one of the few" practicing dentists in the State of Illinois to provide IV sedation. The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 5, 2021, with the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Rockford, Ill. The first court appearance for this case is schedule for Dec. 9, 2021, in front of Judge Lisa Fabiano. I do not see a case cite yet... So, what happened? A patient went into cardiac arrest, was transferred to a local Hospital and died three days thereafter. Plaintiff alleges an additional does of Flumazenil and Naloxone were administered mid-way through the patient's extraction. As part of the malpractice claim, the patient's family alleges the dentist administered anesthesia without a license, and failed to properly refer the patient to an Oral Surgeon.
Now, we do not know what the outcome will be; the matter was just filed on October 5, 2021. The trouble for this dentist with an allegation as salacious are just beginning; it is highly probable a license review is not far behind.
I cannot speak for Illinois law, but in NY and surrounding states, we have laws against deep sedation in an office setting, absent Office Based Surgery designation. We also have strict laws on administration of anesthesia. We have less strict oversight of professionals who may "dabble" - including a GP rendering specialist care. However, as alleged here, failing to meet the standard of care when a GP does specialist work is always a heightened risk.
I do agreed it is an interesting fact pattern. In the end, the standard of care is our measure, and many of you reading are certainly more qualified than I am to have an opinion on that in this circumstance. If you are a practitioner looking to set a new standard or deviating from an established standard, "one of the few" or "the only .... who...." , be sure to have the support backing up the services - protocols, policies, procedures, safeguards, best practices, etc., or you are most certainly creating exposure without much defense if there is a negative patient outcome...
We'll watch this case and update as we see updates. Thank you, Dr. L, for inquiring!