Each year more than 5 million people undergo wisdom tooth surgery in this country. Since it is so common, no one would ever expect that they could die during the procedure. Back in April, a 17-year-old Maryland resident died from complications during the procedure. Her parents have filed suit against the oral surgeon.
The medical malpractice suit was filed in Howard County Circuit Court. The suit claims that the negligent act occurred when the oral surgeon and anesthiologist failed to resuscitate the teen when her heart rate and blood oxygen level dropped.
ABC News reported that the family would not comment on the case. A spokeswoman for the family said that they hope this suit will raise awareness about how serious this procedure really is, and promote the need for better training for those who perform these surgeries.
ABC reported, “An investigation by the state’s chief medical examiner ruled the cause of (the teen’s) death to be hypoxia—oxygen deprivation while she was anesthetized.”
Typically the risks associated with wisdom tooth surgery are damage to the nerves in the mouth or fractures to the tooth or jaw. There have been other cases where the risks were more severe; some have suffered brain tissue infections, excessive blood-loss, and hypoxia.
Some may be surprised as to just how valuable wisdom tooth surgery is for dental professionals. ABC reported that annually about 10,000,000 wisdom teeth are removed, which costs $3,000,000. This raises questions as to whether all of these extractions are necessary. Typically, one need only have their wisdom teeth removed when they are impacted, which causes a lot of pain and can lead to other dental problems. However, many do not wait for the problem to arise, instead they have their wisdom teeth extracted as a preventative measure.
Jay Friedman, a California dental consultant, wrote about wisdom tooth extraction in the American Journal of Public Health. In the article he stated that, “At least two thirds of these extractions, associated costs, and injuries are unnecessary, constituting a silent epidemic of [dentist-provoked] injury that afflicts tens of thousands of people with lifelong discomfort and disability.”
Friedman went on to say that 50 percent of wisdom teeth that are supposedly impacted are usually just developing and the pain would subside after the tooth was in fully.
Our thoughts are with the teen’s family in this difficult time. If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice you deserve to be compensated. Contact a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to defend your rights to the fullest extent of the law.