State dental board creates panel to monitor anesthesia deaths

FILE - Dental, dentist chair (KXAN Photo)
FILE - Dental Chair (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners held a special meeting Wednesday in response to the Sunset Commission’s decision last week to improve oversight of dentists giving anesthesia to patients.

The board agreed to create an independent panel to investigative dental anesthesia deaths and mishaps over the last five years and evaluate emergency protocols. “These dentists will be reviewing, studying, analyze data to make a report to the legislature on the use and misuse of sedation dentistry,” said Lara Anton with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. “The goal here is to improve public safety.”

The dental board has been criticized for not doing enough to insure patient safety in the wake of 14-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres’s death while under anesthesia at an Austin dental office this spring.

At the same time, a long list of problems was laid out in a report by the state’s watchdog agency, which found “complications from dental procedures using anesthesia have caused serious harm to Texas patients, including death.”

A KXAN investigation in May showed other deaths, and found the board not doing inspections of dental offices where sedation is offered.

The dental board still has more changes to make approved by the Sunset Commission last week.

Lawmakers will then draft them into proposed legislation to be presented to lawmakers early next year.

The panel of dentists must make its recommendations to the Legislature by the Sunset Commission’s Jan. 11 meeting.

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