Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

No Child Should Ever Die from Elective Dental Anesthesia

By Annie Kaplan, MD, Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, PPAHS), and Patricia Salber, MD, MBA (Editor-in-Chief,  The Doctor Weighs In)

Caleb Sears was a healthy 6-year-old boy who was looking forward to ice cream treats after his elective dental surgery. Before his dental extraction, Caleb’s parents were told that, despite being generally safe, intravenous anesthesia has a risk of serious complications, including brain damage and death. What they weren’t told was that anesthesia standards of practice vary in different settings. And, most importantly, that the risk goes up substantially when the oral surgeon is responsible for monitoring the effects of anesthesia at the same time that he is doing the operation. Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Dentistry and Death: More Laws or More Education?

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Editor’s Note: Last week, we asked whether the use of birth control is a patient safety risk because of possible development of blood clots. In this post, the question is – do we need more laws or more education to help prevent anesthesia-related deaths in dental procedures and oral surgery.

Most people would not associate dentistry with death – discomfort perhaps – but not death.

However, the death of Caleb Sears forces us to consider the possibility of death in dentistry – or, more accurately, oral surgery:

Caleb Sears was a healthy six-year-old living in the Bay Area. He was in his first year of elementary school and just starting to read and write. He loved playing with his little sister, climbing trees, singing Les Miserables, and making up funny stories about llamas and time machines. Read More