Monday, October 15, 2012

The Morning Drill: October 15, 2012

Good Monday morning!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Merck reaches damages agreement in Fosamax suit

A confidential agreement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against Merck, maker of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, by a woman who claimed she suffered from Fosamax-related damages to her jaw.

The plaintiff, Shirley Boles, first brought a claim against Merck in September 2009, alleging that the drug caused her to suffer from osteonecrosis of the jaw. That lawsuit resulted in a mistrial.

In a subsequent trial in June 2010, Boles testified that she used Fosamax from 1997 to 2006 and that she suffered various jaw problems and complications following two tooth extractions in June 2002, including a several-day hospitalization in 2004 to treat her condition.

The jury in that trial ultimately awarded Boles $8 million in damages, but a judge later reduced the award to $1.5 million.

Rather than accepting the reduced amount, Boles sought a third trial, which was set to begin in September. However, before the trial commenced, the parties reached a damages agreement, according to a press release from the law firm Bernstein Liebhard.

Wisdom Teeth Turf War Erupts in Utah

A number of Utah oral and maxillofacial surgeons have begun a dentistry turf war with a fellow dentist, Heath Hendrickson, over the extraction of wisdom teeth. The surgeons have sponsored a website ( and a billboard on I-15 in Utah County, Utah (I will endeavor to get a photo of the billboard tomorrow).

The oral surgeons who are listed below have a beef with general dentist, Health Hendrickson, who refers to himself as Dr. Wisdom Teeth.

But, what is the FLAP?

Dr. Hendrickson is a licensed, undisciplined Utah dentist who extracts wisdom teeth.

There seems to be more to the story.

Here is Dr. Hendrickson’s website at

Anesthetic Combination Provides a More Rapid Recovery After Oral Surgery

The ideal sedative for oral surgery should make the patient comfortable during the surgery and should wear off quickly enough that the patient can leave the dental chair soon after the procedure. Finding the best plan of anesthetic treatment is essential to the success of dental procedures such as the extraction of wisdom teeth.

A study in the journal Anesthesia Progress compares two drug combinations for use as deep sedation during oral surgery. Patients in a control group received a continuous intravenous infusion of propofol-remifentanil, while those in an experimental group received a continuous intravenous infusion of propofol-ketamine. This was a double-blinded study -- neither patients nor surgeons were aware of which treatment was given.

While ketamine provides a more cost-effective alternative for dental sedation -- remifentanil is more expensive -- it requires a longer patient recovery time. This study found that the more rapid recovery from the propofol-remifentanil combination makes it a more ideal deep sedative for dental office third molar surgery.

State OKs $100,000 settlement for family of boy who died after VCU dental clinic visit

The state of Virginia has agreed to a $100,000 settlement of a $5 million wrongful-death suit filed by the family of a 6-year-old Henrico County boy who died two years ago soon after a dental procedure at Virginia Commonwealth University Pediatric Dental Clinic.

The settlement agreement, filed Sept. 25 in Richmond Circuit Court, is pending approval by a judge during a hearing Wednesday. The state denies any liability, but the Virginia Attorney General's Office has agreed to pay the boy's mother $100,000 to resolve her claim, according to court documents.

A companion lawsuit filed against the dentist who performed the procedure, Dr. Michael D. Webb, is still active. A hearing in that case set for Thursday has been continued indefinitely.

Crystal L. Lewis, mother of 6-year-old Jacobi Isiah Hill, filed suit in May 2011 against Webb of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Sedation; the VCU Dental Faculty Practice Association; and Diane Howell and Jessica M. Hammond, both certified registered nurse anesthetists.

The suit claims the defendants negligently diagnosed, treated and cared for Jacobi, who died May 11, 2010. Jacobi was at the clinic to have caps, also known as crowns, put on several teeth, Lewis said in 2010.

During the procedure, the suit says, the defendants negligently failed to monitor the boy's pre-anesthesia, peri-anesthesia and post-anesthesia condition. The suit says the defendants also failed to monitor the boy's respiratory condition, cardiac condition and vital signs, along with his oxygen saturation levels.In addition, the suit says the defendant negligently failed to timely identify, diagnose and/or appreciate that the boy was suffering from an inadequate and/or obstructed airway, and negligently failed to timely and adequately respond to and treat the boy's signs, symptoms and conditions — "all of which led to his death."

Enjoy your morning!

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