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Hawaii 3-year-old dies after dental procedures

1/4/2014 6:25 PM EST USA TODAY

Girl dies after dental procedures

A 3-year-old girl who suffered massive brain damage after undergoing dental procedures on multiple teeth last month has died, an attorney for her family said Saturday.

The child’s family has filed a malpractice suit against the Kailua, Hawaii, dentist who performed the procedures, and that suit will be amended to include wrongful death, Rick Fried, attorney for the family of Finley Boyle, said in confirming her death.

Finley died at Hospice Hawaii at 8:47 p.m. Friday with her family at her side, hospice President Kenneth Zeri said.

The parents, Ashley and Evan Boyle, filed the lawsuit last week against dentist Lilly Geyer, 36, and unidentified staff members at Island Dentistry for Children. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

The case follows that of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead by physicians at Children’s Hospital Oakland after surgery to remove her tonsils and treat other tissue to improve her breathing. While in the recovery room she began hemorrhaging, suffered cardiac arrest and lapsed into a coma. She remains on life support.

Fried said that the child was diagnosed by the dentist and scheduled for procedures on 10 teeth, including root canals on four teeth and fillings in the others.

The toddler in Hawaii went into a coma after the procedure Dec. 3 and was later diagnosed as in “a persistent vegetative state,” Fried said.

His suit alleges the dental practice made at least four critical errors in the case including misdiagnosis, overmedication and inadequate monitoring and resuscitation of the patient.

Fried said examination by another dentist later determined that most of the dental work was unnecessary.

The suit charges the dentist used a combination of three drugs, all central nervous system depressants, and that the combination enhanced the strength of each without appropriate adjustments in dosage. Fried said an excessive dose of at least one of the drugs was administered.

He said medical records indicate that after respiratory and oxygen levels in the child were measured early in the procedure, no further measurements were taken for more than 26 minutes.

“There was no adequate monitoring of the child’s respirations and oxygen levels during the procedure,” Fried said.

Ashley Boyle, a registered nurse, was in the dental waiting room and became aware there were problems only when emergency responders arrived. The staff also summoned a pediatrician down the hall, Fried said.

The website of Geyer’s dental practice in Kailua, on the island of Oahu, says it is closed and refers inquiries to an e-mail address. Its telephone line has been disconnected. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Her attorney, John Nishimoto, declined comment but called the allegations “unproven.”

“As this matter is now the subject of a pending lawsuit, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any of the unproven allegations that have been reported to the media. Therefore, I cannot comment at this time,” Nishimoto said in an e-mailed statement.

Fried said the child was placed in the hospice center a week ago. “We were all hoping,” Ashley Boyle told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Even the doctors are in tears.”