Calif. dentist, anesthesiologist liable in fatal sedation case

By staff writers

June 8, 2012 -- A Southern California dentist and anesthesiologist lost a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the daughter of a patient who died after being sedated prior to dental implant surgery.

The lawsuit was filed against Thomas Teich, DDS, who owns the Smile Implant Center in Newport Beach, and anesthesiologist Barry Friedberg, MD, after Paula Kane was given propofol and benzodiazepine prior to implant surgery in January 2010, according to a story on

A few hours later, Kane went into respiratory failure and was transported to a hospital, where she was pronounced brain-dead. A few days later her daughter, Tanisha Mitchell, took her off life support.

On May 22, a jury found Drs. Teich and Friedberg guilty of wrongful death. Dr. Teich did not have a permit to administer oral conscious sedation, while Dr. Friedberg was not registered with the Dental Board of California for general anesthesia, the story stated.

The jury awarded $635,000 for pain and suffering, but the verdict was reduced to $250,000 per California's cap on noneconomic damages. Both doctors will split the cost, the story said.

Neither Dr. Teich nor Friedberg could be reached for comment.

Dr. Teich, has been accused of medical malpractice twice before in California, and is currently involved in 13 other malpractice cases, according to the story. He moved to California from Arizona several years after the Arizona dental board revoked his license in 1994 for insurance fraud, gross negligence, and unprofessional conduct. He served eight months in federal prison for mail fraud, the story stated.

The Dental Board of California filed a complaint against Dr. Teich in 2011, citing failure to keep medical records, personal injury against patients, unprofessional conduct, and gross negligence, according to the article.

Last year, Dr. Teich paid a $72,400 arbitration award to a former patient for nerve damage.

Dr. Friedberg lectured about anesthesia during the Michael Jackson trial.

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Last Updated kk 6/8/2012 1:46:06 PM