Sedation death of Calif. boy sparks state investigation

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The Dental Board of California is investigating the death of a 4-year-old boy who died after being sedated for a dental procedure at a practice in Oakland.

Officials with the state dental board confirmed that they are looking into the case of Dũng Lý, who died after a procedure at an Oakland practice identified in news reports as Youthful Tooth.

Lý was undergoing an extraction under sedation at the practice on April 24 but stopped breathing after experiencing complications, according to a post created by relatives. When he didn't wake up he was rushed to the emergency room at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children's Hospital. A lack of oxygen to Lý's body resulted in liver malfunction, with blood coming out of the boy's mouth and nose, according to the post. He died on April 25.

Lý would have turned 5 in November; his family immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 2017.

An official with the Dental Board of California declined to provide further details on the investigation. Calls to Youthful Tooth were not returned as of press time.

Pediatric sedation for routine dental procedures has been a controversial topic, particularly in California, which has experienced several cases of children dying under sedation in recent years. A 3-year-old girl died in 2016, while the 2015 death of a 6-year-old boy, Caleb Sears, sparked the passage of state legislation called Caleb's Law.

The law directed the Dental Board of California to study the safety of pediatric dentistry and included provisions that tightened supervision of requirements for sedated patients. However, some patient advocates believe the legislation does not go far enough to mandate supervision during dental sedation procedures.

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