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Bad medicine

Five-year-old girl dies after dental visit, overdose of sedatives

Thursday, September 28, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: bad medicine, accidental deaths, dental procedures


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(NewsTarget) A 5-year-old Chicago girl was sedated during a visit to Little Angel Dental on Saturday and never woke up, according to a hospital official at Children's Memorial Hospital in Illinois.

The girl, Diamond Brownridge, received a triple dose of sedatives -- an oral agent, an intravenous drug, and nitrous oxide -- during a procedure to fill two cavities and affix caps to her lower front teeth. Her mother, Ommettress Travis, said she was asked to leave the room for the duration of the half-hour procedure, and when she returned her daughter was not breathing.

Diamond was admitted to Children's Memorial Hospital in a comatose state, and died Wednesday around 2:30 p.m. surrounded by her family, said hospital spokesperson Julie Pesch.

"She passed very peacefully and beautifully," said a family statement released by the hospital. The statement went on to say that Diamond had stopped breathing on her own, and there had been no intervention by doctors.

It is common to sedate children having dental work, said Indru Punwani, head of the pediatric dentistry department at the University of Illinois Chicago, but he added that combining three medications is unusual.

"The principal issue is what was the level of sedation and was the level of monitoring appropriate," he said.

The dentist, Micham Riba, has been licensed in Illinois since 1997, and is certified to administer anesthesia to patients, according to Susan Hofer, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. A written statement from Riba was released Wednesday, which in part read, "(My family and I) are so sad. May God bless Diamond and her family."

When speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times prior to Diamond's death, Riba said he had been traumatized by the events.

"Every time you have a tragedy like this, you pray more," he said. "I don't think I will ever go back to a normal life after an experience like this."

Riba added that he has decided to no longer administer intravenous sedatives to his patients, and while he intends to continue practicing dentistry, he has not returned to his office this week.

Chicago law firm, Clifford Law Offices, has filed a petition for discovery for Diamond's family, which managing partner Thomas K. Prindable said is the first step toward acquiring medical records and ascertaining whether a malpractice suit can be pursued.

The anesthesia equipment used on Diamond and all medical records pertaining to the case are being preserved pursuant to an order granted by Cook County Circuit Court Judge William D. Maddux.

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