A civil lawsuit that tallies nearly 80 pages alleges that Kool Smiles, a network of general dentist clinics specializing in pediatric dentistry, is guilty of medical malpractice. Last year, two-year-old Zion Gastelum died after a visit to Kool Smiles and his family is now prepared to go to court over the case.
Staff members at Kool Smiles evaluated Zion two times prior to telling his parents that he needed baby root canals and crowns on his baby teeth. According to the lawsuit, Kool Smiles determined that Zion needed this procedure and administered this procedure after receiving informed consent from the parents.
“It was overseen by an employee who was not qualified to provide the necessary advice for the procedure. The document was not witnessed nor did any dentist sign off on the document on October 20, 2017,” the lawsuit reads.
New details in the lawsuit allege further instances of medical malpractice, a legal field that makes up 15% of all personal injury cases in the United States. According to these details, a staff member of the dental clinic silenced the alarm on the pulse oximeter to which Zion was hooked up. The oximeter monitors a patient’s pulse and oxygen saturation.
The Gastelum family also claims that Zion was left alone in the recovery room within as little as two minutes after the conclusion of the procedure. The dentists allegedly left Zion without a properly working oxygen tank and began procedures on other pediatric patients.
The lawsuit names anesthesiologist Aaron Roberts as a defendant. According to the lawsuit, Roberts did not properly monitor his young patient to ensure he recovered from the effects of anesthesia. Although the procedure lasted for just 35 minutes, Zion was unresponsive during recovery before he was flown to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Doctors there pronounced him dead four days later.
The Gastelum family pins the majority of the blame on the business model of Kool Smiles. According to the lawsuit, Kool Smiles attempts to maximize productivity by scheduling pediatric patients back-to-back, not allowing time for proper monitoring of the children after surgery.