Fam­ily of tot who died sues den­tistry

Un­nec­es­sary pro­ce­dure was an at­tempt to ‘line pock­ets,’ law­suit claims.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Mark Wil­son md­wil­son@states­man.com

The par­ents of a 14-mon­thold girl who died dur­ing a den­tal pro­ce­dure last year have filed a wrong­ful death law­suit, claim­ing the pro­ce­dure was un­nec­es­sary and an at­tempt to “line the pock­ets” of Austin Chil­dren’s Den­tistry with Med­i­caid funds.

Daisy Lynn Tor­res died at the North Austin Med­i­cal Cen­ter on March 29, about two hours af­ter emer­gency per­son­nel were called out to the den­tal of­fice at 12501 Hymeadow Drive in North­west Austin.

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit filed Tues­day in a Travis County state dis­trict court, Daisy was taken to the den­tist to have two cav­i­ties filled by Michael Me­lan­son. She ar­rived at the of­fice with her mother, Betty Squire, who was told that Daisy needed to be given anes­the­sia be­fore Me­lan­son could be­gin, the doc­u­ment said.

Squire asked to be with her daugh­ter dur­ing the pro­ce­dure, but she was told that she had to re­main in the wait­ing room, the law­suit said.

“Af­ter (Daisy) was un­der, Me­lan­son came out and in­di­cated to

her mother that for Daisy’s well-be­ing, he needed to per­form mul­ti­ple pulpo­tomies, or baby root canals, and then place crowns on four of her eight to­tal teeth — baby teeth,” the suit said.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, Me­lan­son told Squire the pro­ce­dure was nor­mal and nec­es­sary, then went back into the room.

At some point dur­ing the pro­ce­dure, Daisy’s heart and breath­ing stopped, the suit said.

The suit al­leges that Daisy’s pro­ce­dure was only done be­cause it was cov­ered by Med­i­caid, and that no sign of dis­ease was ev­i­dent in den­tal ra­dio­graphs taken on the day Daisy died.

The den­tist’s of­fice has said the pro­ce­dure was nec­es­sary, and last year sued Robert G. Wil­liams, the foren­sic den­tist who came to the op­po­site con­clu­sion, for defama­tion af­ter he filed his re­port on the case.

The Travis County med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice had re­quested a sep­a­rate den­tal foren­sic re­view from Wil­liams. The re­view ques­tioned why Daisy was be­ing treated in the first place.

“One can only spec­u­late as to why any treat­ment was per­formed con­sid­er­ing no in­di­ca­tion of den­tal dis­ease or pathol­ogy,” Wil­liams wrote, adding that records from a pre­vi­ous visit didn’t show any de­cay ei­ther.

The suit said Wil­liams ini­tially agreed with Austin Chil­dren’s Den­tistry’s ob­jec­tions to the re­port and “agreed to work with (the of­fice) to as­sist in clar­i­fy­ing the mis­lead­ing per­cep­tions” in the doc­u­ment, but later changed his mind.

The new suit filed by Daisy’s par­ents says the of­fice pres­sured Wil­liams to change his opin­ion.

“Dr. Wil­liams has stated he con­sid­ered bow­ing to the threats of the de­fen­dants in or­der to save him­self the agony of lit­i­ga­tion, but ul­ti­mately de­cided to stick with his prin­ci­ples and con­firmed his orig­i­nal opin­ion to the Travis County med­i­cal ex­am­iner,” the doc­u­ment said.

The fam­ily is seek­ing $1 mil­lion in dam­ages.

Austin Chil­dren’s Den­tistry spokes­woman Sarah Mar­shall said Wed­nes­day it is the of­fice’s pol­icy not to com­ment on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

Daisy Lynn Tor­res died fol­low­ing a den­tal pro­ce­dure last March.

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