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Routine extraction of wisdom teeth ends in teenager's death

A large percentage of the population has their wisdom teeth removed during childhood. In most cases, the results aren’t anything to talk about. The patient may go home with some sore gums, nausea or inflammation commonly referred to as dry socket. The truth is that wisdom teeth extraction is still a surgical procedure, and one that left a family mourning the loss of their teenage boy.

When this particular surgery was complete, the 18-year-old boy went home with one of those common symptoms. His post-operative pain and swelling was referred to as “typical” by CBS Connecticut, but only 48-hours later his mother was holding her lifeless boy in her arms. What went wrong?

That question can’t be answered with the information at hand. At the time of The Portland Press Herald report, the autopsy wasn’t even complete, but doctors that have trained in the surgical profession said that complications from this type of surgery are rare.

They are so rare, that one surgeon who worked as an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital said that there hasn’t been a single reported death in Massachusetts in 20 years after this type of procedure. That was based on surveys from 150 to 200 surgeons that work in the state.

When a surgery doesn’t go as planned, the incident is often described as a “bad outcome” or the patient’s family is told that “there were complications.” What does this mean? Does this mean that the patient was part of that one percent of the population that might respond negatively to medication, to stress or any other set of circumstances? Or does this mean that the doctor made a mistake?

An experienced medical malpractice attorney has the tools to investigate the matter, to determine if it was just a complication or if it was more than that. If negligence played a role in causing a fatality, it could be considered a wrongful death. From this point, a family can at least make a fully informed decision on how they want to handle the situation.

Source: CBS Connecticut, “Teen Dies Days After Having Wisdom Teeth Removed,” Feb. 27, 2014

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