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Dentist's License Revoked 11 Months After North Carolina Death

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A North Carolina dentist accused of killing a 57-year-old patient with a fatal overdose of sedatives has had her state dental license revoked. The dentist, who sent a letter out to her other patients earlier in the month, neglected to tell those clients that she is facing allegations of severe negligence in connection with the incident, which is considered one of the most egregious violations ever seen by state dental board reviewers.

Indeed, this is the sole incident in more than a decade in which a dentist has been directly blamed for the death of a patient. Shockingly, even as the woman was under investigation for the potential fatality, she was permitted to continue administering sedation drugs as a critical part of her dentistry practice. It is not clear whether she actually provided other patients with these drugs after the victim's death.

Investigators determined that the dentist had ignored her patients' medical history of sleep apnea, which should have changed the way she was anesthetized. The woman's vital signs were also dangerously fluctuating during the procedure, according to assistants. Even though the patient appeared blue - a clear sign that something is amiss - the doctor told her that she wanted to finish removing the victim's tooth. Further, the woman lost consciousness during the operation, which was in distinct violation of the dentist's conscious sedation permit. Even though she administered a "wake-up" drug to arouse the patient, the damage had been done.

Justice has been long in coming for the victim's family, as the death was initially reported on Nov. 20 of last year. Dental investigators did not identify the cause of the death until late April. At that time they started to make moves to revoke the woman's license to practice dentistry. Her license was only recently taken away, according to local news reports.

This may be just the beginning of the dentist's woes, however, as she could still be subject to civil fines for her role in the victim's death. Family members could seek compensation for wrongful death in a medical malpractice claim. This would enable them to receive funds for burial expenses, pain and suffering and other claims.

Source:, "Eleven months after a patient dies, a Cary dentist's license is quietly revoked" Andrew Kenney, Nov. 11, 2013

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