4-year-old dies after dental procedure

A 4-year-old girl died after being sedated for a dental procedure at a Tulsa, OK, dental clinic.

Akasmse Rose Tecumseh of Morris, OK, died August 14 after leaving the Pediatric Dental Group, according to Linda Campbell, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry. The child was having some restorations done and crowns put on her deciduous teeth, she said.

The girl had no known allergies or pre-existing conditions, Campbell said. She declined to say what kind of drugs were used until the investigation is completed.

The board filed a complaint regarding the death, which is done in all fatalities involving dental procedures, Campbell said. "We are looking at this to ensure there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation. We look at each and every situation," she said.

Investigators have been checking the clinic's records to find out how long the sedative was administered and whether proper protocol was followed, Campbell said.

The Tulsa Police Department is working with the board's investigators on the case.

The primary dentist at the clinic is listed on the group's website as Charles Keithline, D.D.S., a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and a diplomate of the board, Campbell said.

An associate of Dr. Keithline performed the procedure, Campbell said, but she declined to identify the individual pending the investigation.

The child is one of six pediatric patients who have died in the past 16 months in the U.S. while undergoing dental treatment.

Only seven people in Oklahoma are known to have died after being sedated at a dentist's office, Campbell said. Many were ruled natural deaths after investigations because the patients were found to have had pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or asthma.

Before Tecumseh's death, the last death linked to sedation at a dental office was that of a 6-year-old boy in Muskogee, OK, six years ago, Campbell said.

In that case, the investigation found that a pharmacy erred by providing the patient a lethal dose of methadone instead of the prescribed sedative, she said. The dentist was exonerated, Campbell said.

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