Two patients treated by the same nurse anesthetist died within a year of each other after receiving anesthesia for elective dental procedures.
ABC15.com reported on Nov. 5 that Tory Richmond is the nurse anesthetist that treated both patients. Richmond is facing lawsuits in both wrongful death lawsuits filed by the victims’ families.
Richmond, accused of medical negligence in both wrongful death cases, was “essentially cleared” of wrongdoing by Arizona’s Board of Nursing, according to ABC15.com, which added that the Board “only filed a generic letter of concern that isn’t easily accessible to the public.”
Unlike anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists work independently to administer anesthesia or collaborate with the presiding doctors, dentists, surgeons, or other medical professionals in anesthesia administration.
In one of the deaths, a woman passed away because of a lack of oxygen to the brain. In the other case, a man died after suffering traumatic burns to his mouth, which caught on fire during oral surgery.
Deaths during oral surgery are exceedingly rare, yet a concerning anomaly, anesthesiologists and other certified nurse anesthetists told ABC15.
Relatives of the victims have expressed frustration towards certain Board members for not being sympathetic towards their suffering. In fact, during a Board hearing, one board member expressed sympathy for Richmond and credited him for administering expert care when his patient’s mouth caught on fire.
One plaintiff, who filed a lawsuit after her mother died, allegedly because of medical negligence at the hands of Richmond, told ABC15, “It’s like they don’t care … What bothers me most is that my mom shouldn’t be gone. She should be here.”
The plaintiff’s mother received anesthesia to have her teeth pulled during a procedure that would allow her to get dentures. The office of the dentist that performed the surgery was not licensed to administer anesthesia, according to records.
During the procedure, the woman stopped breathing, but the staff did not call 911 until 11 minutes after it was apparent that there was a problem with her breathing pattern.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants were reluctant to call emergency services because the office was not licensed to perform sedation.
In the other wrongful death suit, a man’s mouth caught on fire, and he was transferred to the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Medical Center where he died two weeks later.
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