A $5 million wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a dental clinic that is accused of improperly applying anesthesia to a 6-year-old boy one year ago.

Crystal L. Lewis, the mother of Jacobi Isiah Hill, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son this week against Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic.

On May 11, 2010, Jacobi entered the clinic to crown his teeth. Crowns, or caps, are usually used for cosmetic or restorative purposes. Jacobi died shortly after the procedure. The suit alleges the defendants "negligently diagnosed, treated and cared for Jacobi."

According to the state medical examiner's office, Jacobi suffered an abnormal heartbeat as soon as his breathing tube was removed. He was then pronounced dead after being transferred to the VCU Medical Center.

The dental team is alleged to have failed to monitor Jacobi's condition before, during, and after anesthesia was applied. They "failed to monitor the boy's respiratory condition, cardiac condition and vital signs, along with his oxygen saturation levels," according to the suit. Jacobi, who suffered from asthma but no other health issues, was "suffering from an inadequate and/or obstructed airway." The suit claims that the team "negligently failed to timely and adequately respond to and treat the boy's signs, symptoms and conditions — 'all of which led to his death'."

According to the news report about this case, none of the defendants -- VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association, Dr. Michael D. Webb, and two nurses -- returned messages for comment or responded to the suit, which "seeks $5 million in damages plus prejudgment interest from the date of the incident, along with costs."

Anesthesia-related deaths in dentist's office are a real fear. The anesthesia is usually not given by a board certified anesthesiologist, but rather by a dentist who has received some anesthesia training. The reason these cases are so traumatic is that the doctor is busy working on the patient and often does not recognize when a problem arises relating to the patient's airway. When a patient is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, it can result in brain damage and in severe cases, death. In a related case earlier last week, a New London, CT woman, debilitated by an anesthetic error, was awarded $10.5 million in damages.

If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and improperly administered anesthesia cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational medical malpractice website. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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cosmetic dentists blackburn 06/09/2011 11:08 AM
That's awful!
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Vista Dentist 09/29/2011 07:45 PM
This is just a sad story. It didn't need to happen. Proper monitoring of the airway can avoid the vast majority of problems with sedation.
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Randle Bowling 11/25/2011 05:30 PM
I work in a dental office in california and the threat of death from local anesthesia is very real. That is why our dentist does recurrent training for 40 hours a year. Hopefully you sharing this story will help educate dentist and the public alike so we can prevent cases like this in the future. Thank You.
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Dental Stacey 09/26/2014 05:51 AM
What a shame that this all happened, interesting read thanks for posting this article.
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