NC dental board proposes rule changes to improve anesthesia safety

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The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners approved proposed changes to its rules on anesthesia and sedation following the death of a patient during a routine dental procedure in 2020, according to a report by WECT News in Raleigh.

The board is proposing requiring capnography during anesthesia, a technology that monitors a patient's breathing, level of sedation, and airway management, to alert dental providers in real time if a patient is in distress, according to the report. Also, the proposed rules would impose maximum dosage limits for certain sedation medications, and doctors would be required to report cases within 24 hours of patients suffering adverse events that led to hospitalization.

On July 30, 2020, Dr. Mark Austin of Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Leland administered anesthesia and sedatives to patient Dr. Henry Patel, a 53-year-old cardiologist. After resulting complications, Patel died on August 3 of an irreversible anoxic brain injury, WECT News reported.

Following a board investigation that found Austin's actions resulted in Patel's death, Austin permanently surrendered his license.

The revised rule proposals will be considered during a public comment hearing on November 16. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, the proposed revisions could be adopted as early as December, according to the report.

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