Early childhood caries (ECC) is the single most common chronic childhood disease. In the treatment of ECC, children are often given moderate sedation or general anesthesia. An estimated 100 000 to 250 000 pediatric dental sedations are performed annually in the United States. The most common medications are benzodiazepines, opioids, local anesthetics, and nitrous oxide. All are associated with serious adverse events, including hypoxemia, respiratory depression, airway obstruction, and death. There is no mandated reporting of adverse events or deaths, so we don’t know how often these occur. In this article, we present a case of a death after dental anesthesia and ask experts to speculate on how to improve the quality and safety of both the prevention and treatment of ECC.
Ethics Rounds: Death After Pediatric Dental Anesthesia: An Avoidable Tragedy?
POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Dr Milgrom is a director of Advantage Silver Dental Arrest, LLC; the other authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: The authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.
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Helen Lee, Peter Milgrom, Colleen E. Huebner, Philip Weinstein, Wylie Burke, Erika Blacksher, John D. Lantos; Ethics Rounds: Death After Pediatric Dental Anesthesia: An Avoidable Tragedy?. Pediatrics December 2017; 140 (6): e20172370. 10.1542/peds.2017-2370
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