A child’s death after rare but not unprecedented complications from dental surgery has rocked the suburb of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where family, friends and community members are mourning the tragic loss of a 17-year-old woman. The girl’s mother wrote this week on her daughter’s Caring Bridge site that she died within days after suffering cardiac arrest while getting her wisdom teeth removed.
“Her faith was strong, her heart was big, her laughter was infectious and her smile could light up a room.” The family also expressed its thanks “for all the prayers of support, healing and strength during these last seven days that has seemed like an eternity.”
In some other instances when dental patients have died from complications of oral surgery, families have filed wrongful death lawsuits. Among them is an oral surgery malpractice lawsuit where a family living in Woodbridge, New Jersey in 2009 received an $11 million jury verdict in connection with the death of their son. He died from suffocation after having his wisdom teeth removed. Newspaper accounts said the New Jersey patient had a hereditary condition — known to his oral surgeon — that caused his immune system to react to any trauma to his face or hands by swelling.
Other deaths related to oral surgery complications have included a 24-year-old southern California man in 2013 and a 17-year-old girl in Maryland in 2011. In the aftermath of the Maryland tragedy, the girl’s parents chose to file a civil lawsuit in Circuit Court to highlight risks of oral surgery and the need for better emergency training among dentists and oral surgeons. The lawsuit alleged that their daughter’s attending oral surgeon and anesthesiologist failed to resuscitate her after her heart rate and blood oxygen level dropped.
“It’s so hard,” the girl’s mother, told ABCNews.com. “She was the only one we had.”
In the Eden Prairie case, the mother wrote on CaringBridge that the tooth removal went well “until the very end, when her blood pressure shot up and her pulse dropped and then she went into cardiac arrest.” The junior at Eden Prairie High School was a diver on the swim team and an alpine skier.
Wisdom tooth removal is an outpatient procedure performed on 5 million Americans each year. Another death was documented in Maine just last year when an 18-year-old Cheverus High School student died from a rare, aggressive bacterial infection within days of a wisdom tooth extraction.
Wrongful death attorneys assist next of kin in holding accountable those who were liable in their loved one’s death. Minnesota-based Our law firm has been hired by families across the country to investigate tragic deaths and represent them in actions related to recovery. The firm has led complex, multi-district litigation in numerous medical malpractice cases as well as representing individual families in child deaths. The firm’s work includes the recent $3 million settlement in the case of a Minnesota boy who drowned in a St. Louis Park middle school pool.