Dental Board proposes improvements in sedation safety

FILE - Dentist /doctor light
FILE - Dentist /doctor light

AUSTIN (KXAN) — New recommendations are out Friday meant to keep you and your family safe when you go to the dentist. The steps are in response to lawmakers demanding The State Board of Dental Examiners improve oversight of dentists giving anesthesia to patients.

This is all because of recent deaths and medical emergencies involving patients under anesthesia, like 14-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres who died while under anesthesia at an Austin dental office last spring. An autopsy found complications from anesthesia caused the toddler’s death.

Friday, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners released a proposed plan to keep patients safer that will be presented to lawmakers next Wednesday.

Recommendations include:

  • Giving the agency authority to inspect dental offices where sedation/anesthesia is provided.
  • Require all dentists to have written emergency plans, and conduct drills several times a year.
  • Training for at least one person in each dental office who assists with sedation in recognizing and helping in anesthesia-related emergencies.
  • Requiring dentists to report extent of their training for sedating children and the elderly.

The recommendations are aimed at fixing a long list of problems laid out in a report by the state’s Sunset Commission last year. The watchdog agency found “complications from dental procedures using anesthesia have caused serious harm to Texas patients, including death,” including 112 complaints related to anesthesia since 2012, of those, 41 patients died.

Our own KXAN investigation last May showed the dental board not doing any inspections of dental offices where sedation is offered.

The agency will present their proposed changes to lawmakers next Wednesday. You can read the full report here. 

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