Mother wants lawmakers to take closer look at sedation dentistry after her son dies

Christopher Power, 17, died two days after dental extraction

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A Central Florida mother is trying to get results after the death of her son.

She says last April, she took her son Christopher Power in for what she thought would be a simple dental procedure to remove several teeth in order for him to get braces.

But Christopher stopped breathing while he was under anesthesia.

Now, she wants lawmakers to take a closer look at the rules and regulations surrounding sedation dentistry - and who should be allowed to do it.

“Not having my child leaving with me, it’s heartbreaking for any parent,” Alison Power said.

Power said when she took her 17-year-old son to have his teeth pulled, she had no idea he'd end up in a hospital on life support, and then die two days later.

She now wears and shares a green wristband to honor his memory.

”He will not die in vain,” Power said.

Power said she had no idea Dr. Steven Baxter - the dentist who performed Christopher's procedure -had two other administrative complaints on file with the Florida Board of Dentistry for failing to take a preoperative radiograph during a 2014 dental surgery appointment and another back in 2001.

In the first case, Dr. Baxter had to pay a fine, complete continuing education courses and perform 20 hours of community service.
In the second, he was fined and received a reprimand letter from the Board of Dentistry.

Power said she even had a consultation with Dr. Baxter, discussing the sedation procedure, and said she thought he was an oral surgeon- but as it turns out, he isn't.

“I'd seen no reason not to trust him,” Power said.

In a video deposition taken this year, Dr. Baxter acknowledged the fines and courses he had to take as a result of those dental board complaints but said he did not consider them to be disciplinary actions.

When asked about the specifics of Christopher Power's case, Dr. Baxter said he did have a ledger of the drugs he used during Power's procedure, but then he later wavered on his memory of that.

“I may not have specifically written down Christopher Power's meds the way that day went.” Dr. Baxter said during a portion of that videotaped deposition.

Christopher's parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Baxter last August. In July of this year, the Board of Dentistry filed an administrative complaint asking for his dental license to be suspended or revoked. A hearing is yet to be set in the case.

But Christopher Power's mother wants lawmakers to address the bigger picture of who is being allowed to perform sedation dentistry, saying it should only be done with either a licensed anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist in the room monitoring the patient's reaction to the anesthesia.
“The way it is being done right now, someone in the room who has no knowledge, it’s unacceptable,” Power said.

Erik Raunch, CRNA, DNP, ARNP and president of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, sent the following statement in response to a News 6 request for comment:

"Patient safety is paramount in all aspects of healthcare including dentistry, which is why we feel that when anesthesia is involved a qualified, licensed anesthesia professional such as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or an anesthesiologist should be involved in the patient’s care. These anesthesia experts are best prepared to ensure a safe anesthetic experience and deal with an emergency situation should one occur."

"They also focus on the patient’s anesthesia care, leaving the dentist to focus on the patient’s dental care. Many times safety gets compromised by cutting corners to save on cost. If cost is an issue, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are the most cost-effective option for ensuring safe anesthesia care in dentist offices. Currently, there are some barriers in place preventing the accessibility of CRNAs to be used in Florida’s dental offices. This story illustrates the importance in removing the current barriers that are in place for CRNAs in Florida so that the proper anesthesia care can be provided in all dental offices."