NC Dental Examiners Consider New Conscious Sedation Rules Following Deaths

Mar 11, 2014

Credit looneyhiker / Flickr Creative Commons

The state Board of Dental Examiners is considering changes to rules about conscious sedation procedures after two deaths were tied to the practice. 

Conscious sedation is frequently used during some surgeries to depress consciousness, but keep patients responsive and breathing on their own.  Two have died in the last year and a half during those procedures, which the board says are rare incidents. 

COO Bobby White says an investigation found that doctors did not properly monitor the patient's breathing in at least one of those cases.

"If you give too much of a drug, then that person can go into deep sedation, and if you cross over that line, then you've got to be prepared in an emergency medical response to maintain that airway.  That's the real, crucial issue," White says.

White says the board wants to hear from the public and professionals about how to better train dentists for emergency situations and identify patients who are at high risk for reacting badly to sedatives.

"One of the things that's very important about sedation is that you have to be a candidate for it.  Your medical history is very important to the dentist in selecting or determining if a patient is an appropriate candidate for any type of sedation," he says.

The first public meeting is at the Grandover Hotel and Resort in Greensboro on March 28th.