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Child’s Death in Vancouver Calls Attention to Anesthesia Risks

When having a procedure performed at your dentist or doctor’s office or at a medical clinic, there are options available in terms of the type of anesthesia used. While a general anesthesia offers the benefits of completely knocking you out while the doctor or dentist performs their work, there are potential risks you need to be aware of. A recent case in which a Vancouver dentist was charged with medical malpractice and negligence after a child died in their care highlights the dangers and the tragic consequences that can result.

Vancouver Dentist Charged with Negligence After Child’s Anesthesia Death

A February 2018 report by Q13-Fox News illustrates the unexpected dangers that can result when anesthesia is administered in the wrong dose. According to the report, a Washington State anesthesiologist has been charged with medical negligence after administering a fatal dose to a four-year-old boy in his care. The child’s mother had brought the boy in to have several crowns replaced. The boy reportedly had been “squirmy” during a previous visit, so the doctor administered the anesthesia so that he would sit still. He told the mother he gave the boy a “little extra dosage” just to ensure he did not wake up during the procedure.

All appeared fine while the crowns were applied, but the mother noticed something was amiss in the recovery room. The boy remained unresponsive and would not wake up. When he stopped breathing, paramedics rushed him to the local hospital. Tragically, he was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy revealed later that multiple drug intoxication was the cause.

Anesthesia Risks

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), deaths due to anesthesia during medical procedures affect only one out of every 100,000 patients, and deaths during dental procedures are even more rare. However, there are common side effects and potentially serious risks that patients do face as the result of anesthesia drugs, which they need to be aware of before having a procedure performed.

Medical News Today reports it is not uncommon for patients to experience dizziness, nausea, and vomiting upon awakening after being sedated, and they may also suffer memory loss, confusion, sore throat, and bruising from the IV drip. More serious side effects include heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and stroke. Patients with the following conditions tend to face greater anesthesia risks:

  • Those suffering obstructive sleep apnea, in which they stop breathing while asleep;
  • Patients with epilepsy or a past history of seizures;
  • Those with existing heart, lung, or kidney conditions;
  • Patients who smoke or drink to excess;
  • Patients who are overweight or have a history of diabetes;
  • Those on medications which can increase bleeding, such as aspirin or blood thinners;
  • Those with a past history of adverse drug or anesthesia reactions.  

Contact Us Today for Help

If you or someone you care about has suffered an adverse reaction to anesthesia or other medications, reach out and contact the Johnston Law Firm. We can arrange a consultation with our Vancouver medical malpractice attorney, who can advise you on your rights to compensation. Call (503) 546-3167. 


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.