A Minnesota family of a teenage girl who died during dental surgery agreed to a $2 million settlement. The lawsuit they filed was originally scheduled to go to trial in May 2018.
In June 2015, 17-year-old Sydney Galleger went into cardiac arrest while getting her wisdom teeth removed. Her heart rate dropped dramatically during the procedure and 911 was called immediately. She was transported to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and was placed on a ventilator. Sydney experienced several seizures in the next few days and had surgery to reduce the swelling of her brain. Unfortunately, the brain continued to swell and there was nothing more the doctors could do.
Diane Galleger, Sydney’s mother, said that was the most upsetting news the family could have received.
“We had our happy, healthy, funny, beautiful 17-year-old daughter. As we look at all the pictures covering her hospital walls, we can’t believe this same happy, healthy, funny, still beautiful daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend is lying in that hospital bed,” she said. “We can’t comprehend it yet and not sure when we will.”
According to the lawsuit, Dr. Paul Tompach, the oral surgeon who treated Galleger, failed to administer anesthesia correctly and adequately monitor the teenage girl during the surgery. The lawsuit also stated that the evidence in the case clearly demonstrates that Tompach ignored the safety of his patients.
Tompach’s license was temporarily suspended in January 2016 and he is now on the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.
Sydney’s parents will receive $1,279,600 of the $2 million. Her medical and funeral expenses cost approximately $200,000.
The Gallegers’ attorney, Kathleen Peterson, said that Sydney didn’t have to die like that and that no amount of money can replace her.
Sydney isn’t the only person who died during a dental procedure. In March 2017, 4-year-old Mykel Peterson of Vancouver was put under anesthesia to fill a cavity and never woke up.
Mykel received a shot of the anesthesia drug Ketamine so that he was completely asleep while the dentist looked to see where he required fillings. When Mykel stopped breathing, 911 was called.
“Now I’m in this situation where I’m sitting here waiting to know what exactly his cause of death was,” Mykel’s mother, Thmeka Curry, said. “I never knew kids around the world are losing their lives because of being put to sleep by a dentist, until it happened to my son.”
Dr. Jenny Dolan, the Chief of Pediatric Anesthesia at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg advises parents to ask questions when their kids undergo a dental procedure. She suggests for parents to ask if their child will be given anesthesia or sedation and if the facility is fully prepared for any type of emergency that may occur.