Anaesthetic Deaths are a Cause for Malpractice and Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A 3-year-old girl in Stockton, California died during a routine dental clinic procedure on Monday June 12th. The girl’s unbelievable death happened as she had two teeth removed and two capped. According to early reports, the little girl had a reaction to the anaesthetic, although an official determination on how she died is not yet known.

General Anaesthetic Deaths

Despite the advances in medicine, many people are still afraid to “go under” when they have surgery. No matter how big or small the surgery is, many feel they may not wake up from the procedure.

In the 1940s, around 640 of every 1 million people that went in for surgery died when put under by anaesthetic. 40 years later it was down to four per every 1 million patients. While things seem safer nowadays, there is still the risk of someone, like the girl mentioned above, having a reaction that can cause death.

A case in 2016 in which a 3-year-old died during a procedure in San Ramon raised questions to why a toddler would be put under anaesthetic at all.

Can the Family File a Malpractice Lawsuit?

It will not bring back their daughter, but the family of the victim in this case may be able to file a malpractice lawsuit against the dental clinic charged with caring for their little girl. The family must prove that the clinic and those overseeing the girl’s procedure were negligent. To prove negligence, however, there are four elements that must be addressed.


Did the dentists overseeing the dental surgery provide the same standard of care that other clinics in California would have? Establishing the standard and quality of care is an important first step.

Breach of Duty

If the answer is no to the first question, then there was a breach of duty by the clinic and its employees. Not all cases of death at the dentist can be a breach of duty. For example, some cases in which people die during procedures is simply seen as unfortunate.

In the case of a Utah man, Jared Wakefield died during a tooth extraction when he was under general anaesthetic. Wakefield’s death was caused when a piece of gauze slipped down his throat, causing him to choke to death. Investigators in the case found that the dentist, Dr. Dennis Blume, failed to meet the proper “standard of care” during the surgery.

Causation and Damages

To prove causation, a dentist’s actions have to be shown as the reason for an injury. If a patient would have obtained an injury even without the dentist’s interaction, there is no causation. In the case of Wakefield, he would not have passed away if it had not been for the procedure conducted by his dentist.

If causation can be proven, then the victim is entitled to compensation. In the case of a death, compensation for medical malpractice and wrongful death could be quite substantial.

Strassburg, Gilmore and Wei can Help

The law firm of Strassburg, Gilmore and Wei can provide you with legal guidance when it comes to catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Located in Pasadena, California, Strassburg, Gilmore and Wei, Attorneys at Law, is available to give you insight on difficult matters. Visit our webpage to see how we can help you. If you have any questions, contact us and let our experienced attorneys in catastrophic injury and wrongful death go to work for you.

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