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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Lawsuits Filed After Two Die During Dental Anesthesia


Dental anesthesia lawsuits are not among the very common medical malpractice lawsuits that you see in newspapers in courtrooms. However, one dental anesthesiologist lost two patients in a year under bizarre circumstances. In one case, the patient’s brain was deprived of oxygen for too long. In the other case, the patient’s mouth caught on fire during oral surgery. Both patients died from routine procedures that were not expected to produce casualties.

While it’s almost absurd that patients would die during oral anesthesia during a dental procedure, the state board that reviews these cases issues only a letter of concern which is nearly impossible for the public to access. Problematically, many states, Florida included, protect doctors and health care personnel from public disclosure concerning their procedures for reviewing doctors. In this case, Arizona, the state in which this lawsuit is filed, has failed to revoke the doctor’s license or even review his conduct to determine if he’s qualified to practice medicine.

Florida is much the same way. While we have a three-strikes law that would ostensibly put a bad doctor out of business, doctors can avoid strikes by settling lawsuits. Some doctors accrue 30 years of medical malpractice lawsuits before anyone takes notice.

Why does this happen? 

Generally speaking, disciplinary actions against doctors are afforded in states as part of a negotiation with the public. In states that cap damages on medical malpractice lawsuits, there is more attention paid to administrative discipline. In states where medical malpractice lawsuits remain uncapped, these boards can be quite indifferent to disciplinary matters and gross negligence. That’s because they believe a system already exists to manage the problem: The system of torts.

Tort lawsuits are filed in situations where both the plaintiff and defendant have lost control of the situation and now want the matter settled by an objective third party. The medical industry likely feels that the system of torts is enough punishment for doctors who harm patients with substandard care. However, avoiding injury is always going to be preferable than suffering an injury and then seeking compensation. Most personal injury plaintiffs will tell you that they’d rather have their lives back than the money. It’s only because their lives are radically changed forever, or even ended, that these tort lawsuits emerge. Avoiding them, however, has proven tricky, even in states that limit tort lawsuits against doctors.

Meanwhile, two medical malpractice cases are in limbo because of a report issued by the state’s medical board clearing the defendant of wrongdoing. But the medical board may be operating on a different standard of proof than a civil court would. In civil court, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it must be more likely than not. It’s unclear what standards are applied by state medical boards in rendering decisions against doctors.

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney 

The Matassini Law Firm files medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of injured patients. Call our Tampa medical malpractice attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin the process of filing suit.


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