The North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners is making changes to its rules on “conscious sedation” practices after a patient died during a dental procedure, the second death in a year.
These recent deaths have made the state board reassess its rules and seek feedback from the public and medical professionals, asking them to weigh in on possible rule changes for sedation dentistry, and dentistry in general.
“I think there will be that changes made to the rules,” board operations officer Bobby White said, adding, “The board’s not so arrogant to think or know info we have all the answers.”
According to state records, both dentists involved in the two deaths hold permits to perform sedation dentistry. When used properly, sedation dentistry is supposed to suppress a patient’s anxiety with medications that depresses consciousness while keeping the patient responsive.
In 2012, the dental board found a Cary, NC dentist had ignored a patient’s medical history, and an assistant’s warnings of the patient turning blue. The board allowed the dentist to continue practicing sedation dentistry for almost eight months after the patient’s death.
The board issued an emergency suspension in 2013 for a Williamston dentist in the second death investigation, which showed evidence of sedative drugs being administered to a patient “who was not a good candidate for outpatient deep sedation, which resulted in the death of the patient.” The dentist named in the report has asked for a public hearing on the accusations.
The recent death of a child in Hawaii has brought national attention to the need for changes to the practice of sedation dentistry.