Colorado Business / Commercial Litigation Attorneys

Two-Year Old Dies at a National Pediatric Dental Clinic

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 corporation with more than 120 clinics catering to low-income children-patients on Medicaid.

Kool Smiles told the 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 this recommendation 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, which 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. Despite the fact that he was not yet awake and had not regained the ability to breathe on his own, Kool Smiles dentists left him alone in order to begin procedures on another child patient.

The two-year-old patient was left alone in the recovery room for approximately 5-10 minutes.  When his mother was taken 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 sound of the monitor’s alarm as she and the staff member entered the room, but the monitor was immediately silenced by the staff member. 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 then saw 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 lead to the child’s death, its 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, 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.

Contact an Attorney at Burg Simpson

If you or anyone you know, have children who have been injured from treatment at Kool Smiles, you might have a claim against this company. For more information, please call Burg Simpson to find out if you qualify to begin the claimant process. Call Burg Simpson 303-792-5595 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation Form Here.

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