Poorly trained dentists are killing U.S. kids: report
In the last 15 years, 31 children have died during or following dental treatment, according to a recent report by a joint investigation by FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity.
BY MICHAEL WALSH
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
JULY 13, 2012
Some dentists have pushed dangerous procedures for which they haven’t been properly trained on young children.
Poorly trained dentists have been killing American children by administering unnecessary, yet lucrative, sedation. In the last 15 years, 31 children have died during or following dental treatment, according to a recent report by a joint investigation by FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity.
Raven Maria Blanco was 8-years-old when she died in the dentist's chair during a routine procedure. She received three times the average range of sedatives for a child of her weight and health. She had a lethal blood concentration of 24 mg/l of chloral hydrate, as revealed by an autopsy, according to the Daily Mail.
The dentist responsible, Dr. Michael Hechtkopf, only had his license restricted for three months and needed to retrain in risk management and record keeping for a mere seven hours. Dr. Hechtkopf's lawyer said that his client "regretted" what happened.
Raven's parents established the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation to warn others about ill-equipped dentists unnecessarily performing such dangerous procedures. They started a campaign to establish a registry of dental treatment deaths, in hopes to save other families from the same heartbreak.
But other families have endured such tragedy. Five-year-old Diamond Brownridge died from nitrous oxide and an intravenous sedation. 13-year-old Marissa Kingery died from four different types of oral sedatives.
When Dr. Patrick Bamgboye administered the sedatives that killed 3-year-old Juan Quiej earlier this year, he was still on probation for doing the same to 6-year-old Kyneicha Pagan. Kyneicha's mother said, "Two innocent kids die. It can't be a coincidence."
Some of these dentists have merely two days of safe sedation training, but it can increase treatment costs by tens of thousands of dollars, according to ABC. Dr. Indru Punwani, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, said that such weekend courses are inadequate preparation for potential emergencies.