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Take sedation very seriously

Post date: 15/07/2014 | Time to read article: 1 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

Although this is something of a worst-case scenario, this case demonstrates the need to be sure that whatever you do to a patient, you do no harm...

A dentist was seeing two patients for sedation. They were effectively accompanying each other and were not otherwise accompanied. While one patient was recovering from her own sedation, the dentist administered a sedative drug for an extraction on the other. Unfortunately, the patient collapsed and died shortly thereafter at a local hospital, despite the attempt of paramedics to resuscitate her. 

A Coroner’s Inquest was held and the dentist was criticised for:

  • Using an anaesthetic dose of the sedative drug
  • Taking no adequate medical history
  • Having no proper records
  • Inappropriate monitoring and inappropriate handling of an emergency.

A verdict of unlawful killing was returned. The dentist himself passed away shortly thereafter through illness and no criminal charges were brought.

Learning points:

Training of the whole dental team is required when using sedation, with particular attention to emergency resuscitation procedures

All adopted protocols should be regularly reviewed in the light of current guidelines.


These case studies are based on real events and provided here as guidance. They do not constitute legal advice but are published to help members better understand how they might deal with certain situations. This is just one of the many benefits dental members enjoy as part of their subscription. 

For more detailed advice on any issues, contact us

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