Health

Family To Sue Dentist Over Brain Damaged Girl

| by Jordan Smith

A Houston family is planning to file a lawsuit against a dentist after a routine treatment went wrong.

Nevaeh, 4, went to the dentist in January to have treatment for decaying teeth.

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But Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson allegedly failed to notice that the girl was having seizures during the procedure. Instead of calling 911, Jefferson attempted to treat Nevaeh with medication and only contacted emergency services four hours later.

Nevaeh suffered brain damage and is no longer able to walk, talk, or see.

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“It’s heartbreaking,” Derrick Hall, Nevaeh’s father, told KTRK-TV. “It really is like … I never in a million years would have thought something like this would happen.”

Nevaeh is currently being treated in a hospital.

"You could have easily said, 'What’s going on, this is what possibly could be going on,'" Hall said of Jefferson. "You know, nothing. Nothing."

Courissa Clark, Nevaeh’s mother, suggested the cause of the injury could have been a restraining device used by Jefferson.

"They made it seem like it was for her safety so she wouldn't fall off the table or put her hands in her mouth," Clark told the Houston Chronicle.

Jim Moriarty, an attorney hired by the family, also issued a warning about immobilizers.

"We've got to get the American public to understand: You cannot allow your child to be held in a restraint device without you personally being present," he said.

The state monitoring board for dentists has already taken action against Jefferson, suspending her license to practice and initiating proceedings to have it revoked.

“Staff believes that Dr. Jefferson’s actions have shown that she is a threat to the public,” Kelly Parker of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners wrote in a statement, according to KPRC. “The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ mission is to protect the public’s health and safety.”

Jefferson has been reprimanded twice before: in 2012 for not sedating a young patient properly, and in 2005 for failing to keep track of a patient’s blood pressure.

An administrative law judge will hear Jefferson’s case on March 28 and 29, before the board takes a final decision on the matter.

KPRC found that a small number of patients in Texas have died while under sedation, with six dentists having been suspended since 2010 for such incidents.

Sources: KTRK-TV, KPRC, Houston Chronicle/ Photo credit: Craig Hartley/Houston Chronicle

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