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Calif. Law Would Require Oral Surgeons to Be More Open About Anesthesia Risks

Parents say a separate anesthesia provider and monitoring equipment might have saved 6-year-old Caleb Sears.

Published: April 1, 2016

Caleb Sears TRAGIC OUTCOME 6-year-old Caleb Sears stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest during a routine dental procedure.

The anesthesia-related death of a 6-year-old California boy is spurring his parents and state lawmakers to push for a law that would force dentists and oral surgeons to be more open about the dangers that exist when oral surgeons administer anesthesia without having a separate anesthesia provider present.

Caleb's Law, named after Caleb Sears, who stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest during what was supposed to be a routine tooth extraction, would require dentists and oral surgeons to inform parents and guardians that risks are greater when general anesthesia or deep sedation is provided without a separate anesthesia provider or without using capnography, EKG and continuous pulse oximetry to monitor patients. The law would also require the California Dental Board to collect, study and share data about deaths and injuries from dental anesthesia.

"What we are asking for is that parents be given the information they need to make an informed decision and that will save lives," says state assemblyman Tony Thurmond, who authored the bill, AB 2235.

Caleb's father questions why oral surgeons can operate and administer anesthesia simultaneously without a separate anesthesia provider. "The fact that dentists and oral surgeons are allowed to do this and no one else is doesn't make sense," says Tim Sears.

The California Dental Association has issued a statement saying it welcomes an investigation into state laws regarding administering anesthesia to pediatric dental patients, citing a "strong safety record … built upon significant anesthesia training."

Jim Burger


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