Health Magazine

Death at the Dentist – Second Death Due to Complications from Treacher-Collins Syndrome

Posted on the 08 September 2012 by Rmbf @rmbfkids

HARLINGEN, TEXAS – A routine trip to the dentist turned tragic for the Tirado family.

On Sept. 6, 10-year-old Marcos Tirado received anesthesia at a local dental office and minutes later, he had to be rushed to the hospital.

The fifth-grader was undergoing a tooth filling at Harlingen Family Dentistry when complications arose. Two days later, he died.

Marcos’ procedure was complicated by Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare hereditary facial deformity found in one in every 50,000 births, according to published medical reports.

“Treacher-Collins is a huge deal that trained pediatric dentists and dental anesthesia providers should be aware of,” said Dr. James Tom, a dental anesthesiologist from USC, who did not treat Marcos. “I would only treat a Treacher-Collins patient in a hospital setting.”

Dr. Tom, who is also an officer for the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, said patients with this disorder have compromised airways because of their small jaws (mandibles) that sometimes make breathing normally a problem.

Marcos’ family said they made doctors and nurses aware of his condition before the dental procedure. According to published reports, the dentist told the family Marcos needed sedation gas to keep him calm. His father showed concern but said staff assured him it was safe and routine.

About 10 minutes into the procedure, everything changed. The boy was rushed to the hospital where doctors were unable to revive him. He was in a coma for two days before he died.

Florida resident, Dasia Washington, 10, died in 2005 while having a tooth pulled. She also had Treacher-Collins syndrome.

According to an investigation last year by FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity, in the past 15 years, 31 children have died during or following dental treatment. Today, that number has climbed to 35 including Marcos. According to the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Web site, every practicing U.S. dentist will face approximately eight potentially life-threatening medical emergencies in their offices every 10 years (i.e., approx. 150,000 in the U.S. every year).

There is no national database to track patient deaths at dentists’ offices or following dental procedures. In fact, dentists are limited in their ability to share information with the public due to federal patient privacy laws.

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