The parents of a 14-month-old girl who died during a dental procedure last year have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the procedure was unnecessary and an attempt to “line the pockets” of Austin Children’s Dentistry with Medicaid funds.
Daisy Lynn Torres died at the North Austin Medical Center on March 29, about two hours after emergency personnel were called out to the dental office at 12501 Hymeadow Drive in Northwest Austin.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in a Travis County state District Court, Torres was taken to the dentist to have two cavities filled by Michael Melanson. She arrived at the office with her mother, Betty Squire, who was told that Torres needed to be given anesthesia before Melanson could begin, the document said.
Squire asked to be with her daughter during the procedure, but she was told that she had to remain in the waiting room, the lawsuit said.
“After (Torres) was under, Melanson came out and indicated to her mother that for Daisy’s well-being, he needed to perform multiple pulpotomies, or baby root canals, and then place crowns on four of her eight total teeth — baby teeth,” the suit said.
According to the document, Melanson told Squire the procedure was normal and necessary, then went back into the room.
At some point during the procedure, Torres’ heart and breathing stopped, the suit said.
The suit alleges that Torres’ procedure was only done because it was covered by Medicaid, and that no sign of disease was evident in dental radiographs taken on the day Torres died.
The dentist’s office has said the procedure was necessary, and last year sued Robert G. Williams, the forensic dentist who came to the opposite conclusion, for defamation after he filed his report on the case.
The Travis County medical examiner’s office had requested a separate dental forensic review from Williams. The review questioned why Torres was being treated in the first place.
“One can only speculate as to why any treatment was performed considering no indication of dental disease or pathology,” Williams wrote, adding that records from a previous visit didn’t show any decay either.
The suit said Williams initially agreed with Austin Children’s Dentistry’s objections to the report and “agreed to work with (the office) to assist in clarifying the misleading perceptions” in the document, but later changed his mind.
The new suit filed by Torres’ parents says the office pressured Williams to change his opinion.
“Dr. Williams has stated he considered bowing to the threats of the defendants in order to save himself the agony of litigation, but ultimately decided to stick with his principles and confirmed his original opinion to the Travis County medical examiner,” the document said.
The family is seeking $1 million in damages.
Austin Children’s Dentistry spokeswoman Sarah Marshall said Wednesday it is the office’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Visit http://ls.tsbde.texas.gov to search the disciplinary records of any dentist, hygienist, assistant and lab in Texas.