A children's dental practice is facing a class action medical malpractice lawsuit less than two months after patients began getting sick at the California clinic.
In addition, parents are suing the Children's Dental Group in Anaheim for fraud, saying dentists performed unnecessary, painful and potentially harmful procedures on their children without consent. An attorney for a plaintiff described the operation as a high-volume, high-profit clinic, where, on at least one occasion, the staff strapped down a 6-year-old and performed two root canals without anesthesia. Another patient went in to have her teeth cleaned and the dentist pulled three teeth without the permission of the girl's mother.
Investigators say as many as 500 children could have been exposed to infectious mycobacteria in water used by the dental clinic between May and September. Reports of problems began after children undergoing invasive dental procedures, primarily “baby root canals,” were getting serious infections and abscesses in their mouths and necks. Nearly 60 children had been treated for infections as of early November.
At least 20 of the infected children -- who range in age from 3 to 9 and received baby root canals -- were hospitalized for between two and four weeks. Some of the affected children have endured extensive surgeries to rid their bones of infection, have lost permanent teeth and will have to receive intravenous antibiotics for as long as four to six months. Because the antibiotics are so strong and “highly toxic,” children need to be monitored closely and have regular blood work and hearing evaluation.
After multiple cases of infections turned up at a local hospital in September, the county health department tested water at the clinic and found it positive for mycobacteria. The clinic was ordered the clinic to stop using water in dental procedures. The clinic had to replace the existing on-site water system and all equipment that could be a source of mycobacteria before staff could resume operations.
A statement issued by the dental group sought to reassure patients the clinic were cooperating with investigations by the county health department and state dental board and that only one of their clinics was affected. The dental group said only “a small number of patients” contracted infections and other patients who are not exhibiting symptoms can come to the clinic for check-ups “so that we can evaluate whether any signs of infection exist and prescribe appropriate care.”
If you or your child have been injured or sickened as a result of the negligent or fraudulent behavior of a healthcare professional, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.