Lawsuit filed against VCU dental clinic in boy's death
By MARK BOWES
Published: May 17, 2011
The mother of a 6-year-old boy who died after he underwent anesthesia for dental treatment at Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic has filed a $5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the practice and those who performed the procedure.
The suit, filed last week in Richmond Circuit Court, alleges the defendants negligently diagnosed, treated and cared for Jacobi Isiah Hill, 6, who died soon after the procedure on May 11, 2010. Jacobi was at the clinic to have caps, also known as crowns, put on several teeth, Crystal Lewis, the boy’s mother, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last year.
Those named as defendants include the VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association, Dr. Michael D. Webb of The Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Sedation, Diane Howell, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, and Jessica M. Hammond, also a CRNA.
The complaint says Jacobi was under the care of the defendants when he underwent a pediatric dental procedure at the VCU Pediatric Dental Clinic at 521 N. 11th St. in Richmond.
During the procedure, the suit says, the defendants negligently failed to monitor the boy’s pre-anesthesia, peri-anesthesia and post anesthesia condition. The defendants also failed to monitor the boy’s respiratory condition, cardiac condition and vital signs, along with his oxygen saturation levels, the suit says.
In addition, the defendants negligently failed to timely identify, diagnose and or appreciate that the boy was suffering from an inadequate and/or obstructed airway, and negligently failed to timely and adequately respond to and treat the boy’s signs, symptoms and conditions – “all of which led to his death,” the suit says.
Jacobi died “as a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the defendants,” the complaint says.
The state medical examiner’s office determined that Jacobi died after suffering an abnormal heartbeat when his breathing tube was removed, or “cardiac dysrhythmia due to endotracheal extubation.”
Last year, Lewis said that her son went into cardiac arrest as soon as the procedure ended and a breathing tube was removed. The boy was then taken to VCU Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Lewis said her son had asthma but no other known health problems.
Contacted on Tuesday, VCU spokesman Pam Lepley said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Messages left for Dr. Michael Webb and Diane Howell at The Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Sedation were not returned.
The defendants have not yet filed a written response to the lawsuit. Attorneys Walter H. Emroch and Thomas J. McNally of the law firm of Emroch & Kilduff are representing Lewis, who is the administrator of her son’s estate.
The suit seeks $5 million in damages plus prejudgment interest from the date of the incident, along with costs