California Anesthesiologist May Lose License After Fatal Cosmetic Dentistry Surgery

Four years after the death of a patient connected to a routine cosmetic dental procedure, the doctor who may have caused her death could finally be losing his license. 

Dr. Hadi Nassar, the in-house anesthesiologist at a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentistry office serving some of Hollywood’s biggest names, is under investigation by the Dental Board of California. He was last employed at the clinic of Dr. Kevin Sands, who has performed cosmetic dental procedures for people like Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, and Drake. 

In 2019, Dr. Nassar was responsible for anesthetizing Tina Owens, a 60-year-old mother of three who came to the clinic for a full mouth of crowns and veneers. During the routine procedure, her vital signs tanked. She was rushed to the hospital, where she passed away days later due to cardiac arrest and a traumatic brain injury linked to the anesthesia. 

Shortly after Owens’ death, her husband filed a lawsuit against Dr. Nassar and Dr. Kevin Sands, who was the primary dentist involved in the procedure but was not responsible for the anesthesia. The lawsuit alleged that the doctors were negligent in multiple ways, including anesthetizing Owens and related processes, leading to her death. Furthermore, the lawsuit claimed that the signature on the paperwork in which Owens consented to be anesthetized was either forged or signed after she was already anesthetized. If this was the case, the entire procedure was unauthorized and unethical in the extreme. 

This lawsuit was settled out of court, and the terms were not disclosed. However, the Dental Board of California’s investigation of Dr. Nassar regarding Owens’ death implies significant validity to the lawsuit’s original claims. According to a spokesman for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, “The Board is seeking the revocation or suspension of Nassar’s dental license and general anesthesia permit.” This type of investigation only occurs when the Board is confident that there has been some form of negligence or other offense that puts the practitioner’s ability to serve patients in doubt. 

Tina Owens’ tragic death demonstrates not even the rich, famous, and powerful are necessarily safe from the perils of medical malpractice. If a patient at the same clinic responsible for some of the best smiles in Hollywood can die during a cosmetic procedure, it can happen to anyone.

The Risks of “Minor” Cosmetic Procedures

Cosmetic procedures are typically viewed as less serious than other types of medical care. Their elective nature means many people dismiss them as safe and risk-free, but this is untrue. While procedures like the placement of dental veneers or plastic surgery are considered low-risk compared to more invasive procedures, there are always potential complications. 

For example, Tina Owens’ death highlights that any procedure involving anesthesia can be fatal. If a medical professional is negligent, these dangers increase significantly. Anesthesia is its own medical specialty specifically because even minor miscalculations in dose or duration can cause a person’s lungs and heart to stop working. A doctor who doesn’t pay appropriate attention to their patients’ needs can cause permanent brain damage during a routine dental procedure. 

Other cosmetic procedures carry similar risks above and beyond that of anesthesia:

  • Facelifts and other skin “tightening” procedures like “tummy tucks” (abdominoplasty) and breast lifts (mastopexy) carry a significant risk of infection and may lead to disfigurement if performed negligently.
  • If done poorly, bariatric surgeries can lead to bowel or gastrointestinal obstructions and intestinal ruptures. 
  • Botox procedures can lead to permanent paralysis of facial muscles if performed incorrectly.

Many medical professionals who perform these procedures attempt to downplay these dangers and make cosmetic procedures seem easy and risk-free. However, the same professionals who attempt to sell as many people as possible unnecessary surgeries may also be unscrupulous enough to neglect critical elements of care.

Most Frequent Types of Negligence in Cosmetic Surgeries

What counts as negligent medical malpractice in cosmetic procedures is not always obvious. Since they are often performed as outpatient procedures, many patients fail to realize that their doctor may be responsible for their poor results. Others don’t realize that their medical team was negligent at all. Some of the most common types of negligence in elective procedures include:

  • Anesthesia complications: While most anesthesia complications don’t lead to the patient’s death, they can have long-lasting effects. If an allegedly negligent anesthesiologist like Dr. Nassar harms a patient during a routine procedure, that patient has grounds for a claim. 
  • Lack of informed consent: Patients must have procedures clearly explained to them, including the potential risks and complications, before they can consent. They have grounds for a malpractice claim if they don’t receive this information before signing a consent form. 
  • Incorrect procedures: If a surgeon performs a different procedure than the patient consented to, such as operating on the wrong body part or shaping it differently than they said they would, they are negligent.
  • Infections and scarring: Failing to meet the standards of care for a procedure can put patients at greater risk of unnecessary scarring and infections that can lead to permanent disfigurement.

If you have suffered from any of these complications, your care team’s negligence may have caused you harm. If so, you have the right to file a medical malpractice claim against them. 

Holding Negligent Cosmetic Surgeons Accountable

Medical professionals who negligently perform cosmetic procedures can harm their patients for life. If you were the victim of medical malpractice during an elective procedure, you deserve to seek justice for the harm you’ve suffered. At the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC, we specialize in helping California victims of medical malpractice get the help they need. Learn more about how our skilled team can help you hold negligent healthcare professionals accountable for their actions by scheduling your consultation today.

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