Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Following Student’s Death After Dental Surgery

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Following Student's Death After Dental SurgeryThe parents of a teenager from Woodstock, Maryland, who died 10 days after having her wisdom teeth removed have filed a lawsuit against an anesthesiologist and an oral surgeon, accusing the health professionals of medical malpractice.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the civil suit also names three additional dental practices associated with the surgery that allegedly left Jennifer Michelle Olenick oxygen-deprived resulting in her death. The complaint alleges that Dr. Krista Michelle Isaacs, the anesthesiologist, and Dr. Domenick Coletti, the oral surgeon, failed to resuscitate Olenick after her heart dropped to a “panic level” of 40 beats per minute, and were negligent in their care of the teen when her body began to lose oxygen.

These failures, the suit alleges, led Olenick to have no pulse when emergency officials came to Coletti’s office in Columbia, and that they directly allowed the “massive and irreversible brain injury” that led to her death on April 6.

According to the media outlet, the lawsuit was filed in Howard County Circuit Court, and was prompted by an investigation by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that found the primary cause of Olenick’s death was hypoxia.

According to the National Library of Medicine, cerebral hypoxia occurs when a lack of oxygen appears in the brain, and has been known to occur when complications of general anesthesia arise. Other causes of hypoxia include drug overdose, stroke and very low blood pressure.

Olenick’s mother says the death was “needless” and is filing the lawsuit in part to raise awareness of such accidents.

Dr. David Fowler, Maryland’s chief medical examiner, stated Olenick was initially given a typical dose of anesthesia, but when she was not put into a deep enough sleep, was fully anesthetized. Isaacs then administered more anesthesia, which Fowler said was a standard procedure.

After Olenick’s heart rate began to drop, a condition called bradycardia, Fowler stated the oxygen saturation in her blood also starting dropping. She then went into hypoxic arrest, the autopsy report showed, and EMTs were called to administer advanced cardiovascular life support protocol, the media outlet reported.

Emergency responders were able to retrieve a pulse after four minutes, and then rushed Olenick to Howard County General Hospital, where she was then transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in order to receive more specialized care. Olenick eventually fell into a coma, and died days later.

According to the Sun, the autopsy showed Olenick died of acute hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or brain damage due to lack of oxygen, as well as severe brain edema, or swollen brain tissue.

Robert Stoelting, president of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, says that when patients are under the effects of anesthesia, their breathing and oxygenation should be monitored constantly, utilizing proven medical equipment such as a pulse oximeter and “caregiver observation,” which entails close watch of a patient’s breathing and airways.

“This monitoring would recognize the development of hypoxia before it caused cardiac arrest,” Stoelting told the media outlet in an email.

Olenick’s parents had not originally planned to file a lawsuit in the matter, but upon the release of the autopsy, decided legal action should be taken.

The lawsuit names Isaacs, Coletti, Central Maryland Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery PA and Baltimore Washington Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center LLC as defendants in the case. Safe Sedation LLC, Isaac’s primary practice setting, is also said to be listed.

While the amount of monetary damages has not been decided, the “amount in controversy” exceeds $30,000.