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High school girl dies during wisdom tooth extraction

Pennsylvania residents may take for granted that no mistakes will be made when one undergoes a routine surgical procedure. Unfortunately, such procedures are where most medical errors actually take place.

A 17-year old high school student's death occurred after a wisdom tooth surgical extraction. While the surgery took place the girl's heart rate decreased likely depriving the brain of oxygen. Though the autopsy reported her as a "healthy teenager with no significant medical history," she died soon after the surgery due to acute brain damage.

Her parents filed a lawsuit against the two doctors, the anesthesiologist and three dental practitioners. The complaint alleged that the doctors failed to take action to resuscitate the young girl while her heart began to falter.

Though it may seem easy to declare fault in such a case, there is no such thing as a simple medical malpractice lawsuit. The attorney for the defendants in this case would like to introduce medical records that possibly show the patient had a number of undisclosed mental and physical health conditions that may have contributed to her death including stress, anxiety and possible heart disease.

Without actually reviewing the medical records the reasons for why the defense wants such records admitted cannot be determined. It's possible that such records will reveal some other cause of the girl's death other than medical mistake.

Because such cases are so complicated, it is always best for victims of medical malpractice to seek attorneys that are experienced in this area. Victims of medical malpractice often are facing off against large hospitals and insurance companies that have a large number of resources to help in defense of their case. Attorneys representing the victims can nevertheless make determinations as to what did occur and put this in clear language to the jury.

The fact of the matter is that 17-year old girls should not be dying of brain injury following surgery. Negligent medical providers that may have caused such a death need to be held accountable.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Lawyers question Olenick's health prior to surgery death," by Kevin Rector, May 3, 2012

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