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Permanent lingual paresthesia – $96,250.00

Dentist and nurse anesthetist-wife try frozen green peas to reduce massive subcutaneous emphysema following wisdom tooth surgery under general anesthesia; patient has permanent lingual paresthesia; Florida settlement for $96,250.

Plaintiff was a 24 year-old single woman when she first visited the general dentist with complaints referable to her lower third molar teeth. She was told that she should have the teeth extracted and she told the dentist that she wanted a general anesthetic. He offered to refer her to an oral surgeon or, if she was willing to wait for the dentist to receive something from the state, she could return to him and he would be able to do the surgery under general anesthesia. He was, at the time, awaiting receipt of an anesthesia/parenteral sedation permit from the Florida Board of Dentistry.

More than six months later, he called the patient back into his office to schedule her surgery. The dentist’s wife was a CRNA (nurse anesthetist) and would do the anesthesia. The dentist used a high-speed air turbine handpiece to drill away bone and caused a massive subcutaneous emphysema to develop in the submandibular space which dissected its way down to the clavicles. The patient was sent home and the dentist and his wife made a house call the next day, but did not send the patient to a hospital emergency room. The following day, after seeing just how massive the emphysema was on the previous day, the dynamic duo returned to the patient’s house with five boxes of frozen green peas which they bought at a nearby convenience store; they placed the green peas on the patient’s upper chest and neck in a futile effort to reduce the swelling, mistakenly believing the emphysema to be an inflammatory process receptive to cold compresses.

A few days later, when the swelling had not subsided and the patient’s fears had increased, she visited a nearby hospital emergency room and was reassured that, although she was in danger during the first few days, the danger had passed and she would gradually improve.

Although the emphysema subsided, sensation to her right tongue never returned and she is left with a permanent paresthesia and disturbance of taste on the right side of her tongue which she attributed to the defendant dentist’s negligence. There were no medical specials and no permanent injury caused by the emphysema.

The case settled for $95,000.00 from dentist’s $100,000.00 policy limit and $1,250.00 from the nurse anesthetist. Plaintiff’s expert: Marlon Branitz, D.D.S., oral and maxillofacial surgery, Coral Springs, FL. Defendants’ expert: none disclosed. Suzanne Henoch v. Steven G. Mautner, D.D.S., and Barbara E. Mautner, CRNA.

Broward County (FL) Circuit Court Case Number: 95-12013 (03). Kenneth P. Liroff, DDS, JD, of of Fort Lauderdale, FL for the plaintiff. Steven Billing, Esq., of Billing, Cochran, Heath, Lyles & Mauro, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, FL for defendant dentist. Mark C. Burton, Esq., of Wicker, Smith, et al., Fort Lauderdale, FL for defendant nurse.

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