State Dental Board holds public hearing to consider new proposal for sedation dentistry

Dentists may have to implement new safety procedures after a tragic mistake.
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 11:39 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A public hearing of the N.C. State Dental Board was held Thursday evening to discuss changing the rules for putting dental patients under anesthesia.

Local cardiologist Dr. Henry Patel never regained consciousness after being put under anesthesia before a dental implant procedure 18 months ago. His family later had to take him off life support because he was brain dead.

For medical procedures, an anesthesiologist or a Registered Nurse must be present in case something goes wrong.

Currently, that safeguard is not in place for dentists and oral surgeons.

Cardiologist Dr. Rob Harper from Wilmington spoke in favor of the proposal to require an assistant anesthesiologist to be present during dental procedures because he felt many don’t realize the seriousness of the issue of administering drugs like Propofol and Ketamine.

“The practice of deep sedation and anesthesia should not be allowed in the office setting and should be restricted to an ambulatory surgery center or hospital, where experienced support personnel are readily available,” said Harper.

During the public hearing, many doctors: oral maxillofacial surgeons, general dentists, and peridontists spoke against the proposal that included limiting administering anesthetics over the manufacturer’s recommended maximum dosage. They said the science and research data did not support this proposal and that their training and certification was rigorous.

“I do not support the addition of a separate anesthetic provider when using Propofol or Ketamine for the following reasons: one, oral and facial surgeons and their teams are well trained and qualified to provide anesthesia under the current model. Two: there is no scientific data that suggests the addition of a separate anesthesia provider increases safety or decreases adverse defense,” said Dr. Thomas Morgan, a general dentist from Jacksonville.

If you were unable to attend and want your voice heard, the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners is still collecting public comments about proposed changes to the General Anesthesia and Sedation Rules [21 NCAC 16Q .0101 - .0703] until March.

Click here or call (919) 678-8223 for more information, or email with comments.

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