Burg Simpson Files Medical Malpractice Case Against Kool Smiles
A Two-Year-Old Child Died as a Result of Medical Malpractice
On December 20, 2017, a two-year-old child died as a result of injuries he sustained while being treated at a Kool Smiles Dental Clinic in Yuma, Arizona, on December 16, 2017. Kool Smiles is a massive nationwide pediatric dental clinic with more than 120 facilities catering to low-income children-patients on Medicaid.
Kool Smiles informed the child’s parents that he needed root canals and crowns on three of his baby teeth, and these procedures would require the use of general anesthesia. Kool Smiles made these recommendations even though there was no discussion of available, less-invasive, and much less-expensive alternate treatment methods of lesser risk that was the standard of care by the pediatric dental field at the time. They also recommended the procedure after the X-rays taken approximately ten months before the invasive treatment that resulted in his death did not support such invasive treatment.
Even though the procedures recommended by Kool Smiles were unnecessary and lacked proper informed consent, Kool Smiles placed the child under general anesthesia (rendering him unconscious and unable to breathe on his own) and performed procedures on nine of his baby teeth. This included baby root canals and crowns on six teeth and a cosmetic dental procedure on three other teeth.
Following the procedures, the child was taken to a recovery room. Even though he was not yet awake and had not regained the ability to breathe on his own, Kool Smiles dentists left him alone so they could begin dental procedures on another child patient.
The two-year-old patient had been left alone in the recovery room for approximately 5-10 minutes before his mother was brought in to see him by a member of the Kool Smiles staff. She observed that her son had an oxygen mask on his face, and his toe was connected to a monitor. Records from the Arizona Dental Board indicate that the child was given supplemental oxygen from an oxygen tank, but the oxygen tank was empty or not operating properly. The monitor was intended to check the patient’s pulse and oxygen saturation. The mother heard the monitor’s alarm as she and the staff member entered the room, but the staff member immediately silenced the monitor. When the alarm went off several more times, it was again silenced by the Kool Smiles staff member – until the staff member finally removed the monitor from the boy and stated to the mother that the device does not work on children.
When the mother observed that her son’s chest was not moving and she found no pulse, the child was taken to the hospital by ambulance and diagnosed with severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen). The two-year-old never regained consciousness and died at Phoenix Children’s Hospital four days later.
When the Arizona Dental Board examined the events that led to the child’s death, board members concluded that the conduct of the dentists handling this case – their use of anesthesia, the lack of contemporaneous X-rays to indicate that the invasive procedures performed on the boy were even necessary, the conduct of the staff, and the equipment used by Kool Smiles in the child’s recovery and subsequent resuscitation – fell below the standard of care.
At the most basic level, this case presents as the tragic death of a young child resulting from gross medical negligence. But sadly, this tragedy is not an isolated incident.
A lawsuit has been filed not only to hold Kool Smiles and its affiliates accountable for the wrongful actions that caused the child’s death but also to prevent this type of senseless tragedy from ever happening to another family because of Kool Smiles’ actions.
Burg Simpson shareholder and trial lawyer Scott Eldredge skillfully leads Burg Simpson’s Medical Malpractice Department. Mr. Eldredge has been practicing law continuously with the firm since his admission to the Colorado Bar in 1983. His legal practice focuses primarily on complex medical malpractice cases with a particular emphasis on birth injury cases.
Scott Eldredge maintains an active trial practice and appears regularly in state and federal courts throughout the country. An active member in the legal community, Mr. Eldredge is a long-time member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. He is also a longstanding member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a national organization comprised of both plaintiff and defense attorneys dedicated to preserving trial by jury. In addition, Scott Eldredge is the current president of the National Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Association.
One of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, has a longstanding and nationwide reputation for fighting relentlessly and successfully for victims of negligence, malfeasance, malpractice, and abuse. Our attorneys have never hesitated to fight for our client’s rights and consistently face and defeat formidable adversaries, including big insurance companies, banks, and pharma. As a result, Burg Simpson has secured more than $1 billion in verdicts, settlements, and judgments in practice areas spanning catastrophic personal injury, mass tort and class actions regarding gas explosions, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and devices, medical malpractice, complex commercial and business litigation, construction defects, and workers’ compensation. The firm’s success has also included more than 200 recoveries in excess of $1 million.
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