On December 16, 2017, two-year-old Zion Gastelum died after undergoing a dental procedure at a Kool Smiles dental office. Now, the boy’s family is alleging medical malpractice in a civil lawsuit.
Back on December 16, 2017, two-year-old Zion Gastelum died after undergoing a dental procedure at a Kool Smiles dental office. Now, the boy’s family is alleging medical malpractice in a civil lawsuit. According to the suit, Zion was “evaluated only two prior times before Kool Smiles told Zion’s parents he needed pulpotomies (baby root canals) and crowns on his baby teeth.” In fact, the suit argues that Kool Smiles made the decision to go forward with the procedure “without truly informed consent from the parents.”
The suit further states:
“It was overseen by an employee who was not qualified to provide the necessary advice for the procedure. The document was not witnessed nor did any dentist sign off on the document on October 20, 2017.”
To make matters worse, the suit also alleges that, during Zion’s procedure, a “staff member at Kool Smiles silenced the alarm on a pulse oximeter hooked up to” the child. For those who may not know, an oximeter is “used to monitor a patient’s pulse and oxygen saturation.” The lawsuit further claims that “Zion was left alone in the recovery room without a properly working oxygen tank…while dentists began procedures on other young patients within as little as two minutes.”
In the suit, Zion’s family partly blames the business model at Kool Smiles, arguing that a big part of the “ Kool Smiles business model is to maximize the productivity of each clinic by scheduling the child-patients back-to-back.” According to the family, this sort of business model results in an “insufficient amount of time between each child-patient for cleaning of the stations and monitoring of the children who are recovering from various forms of anesthesia.”
When commenting on the boy’s death last year, his aunt, Melinda Gathelum said:
“I’m sorry is never going to fill their hearts. Never. Never… I’m appalled at how much I see my family hurt, I see my husband hurt, his brother hurt, my sister-in-law, the mother, and father of Zion – I see everybody hurt.”
In addition to naming Kool Smiles as a defendant, the suit also named anesthesiologist Aaron Roberts. According to the lawsuit, “Roberts was contracted by Kool Smiles and was in charge of Zion’s general anesthesia.” He’s also the one who allegedly “left Zion alone in the recovery room.”
Since the fatal incident, Kool Smiles has undergone a transformation and is now known as ‘Manzana Dental.’ When asked if the rebranding was in response to the accusations mentioned in the lawsuit, the dental office issued the following statement:
“Kool Smiles was primarily known for providing quality dental care to children. Adults in our community also need affordable, quality dental care so we are expanding our services to better serve the entire family. Manzana Dental is our new name to go with our new kind of practice.”
Currently, the suit is working its way through the courts.