Lawsuit: Toddler who died after dental procedure had empty oxygen tank, staff muted alarm

The heartbroken family of a 2-year-old boy who died after a visit to the dentist last year is suing the Arizona clinic, claiming that a staff member repeatedly muted the alarm on a heart monitor that he was hooked up to, and that the oxygen tank he was supposed to be receiving supplemental air from was either faulty or empty.

Zion Gastelum’s mother, Veronica, brought her son to the Kool Smiles dental clinic in Yuma in December 2017 after it was determined that the boy needed crowns to address severe cavities. According to a police report obtained by ABC 15, anesthesiologist Aaron Roberts was contracted by the clinic and was supervising the procedure, and a dentist later told responding officers that the procedure had gone “well.”

According to the family’s lawsuit, while under general anesthesia Zion had nine of his baby teeth worked on, including root canals and crowns on six of them. The complaint alleges that X-rays or further investigative exams were not conducted to confirm that the nine procedures were necessary.

“Once these invasive procedures were complete, Zion was extubated and taken to a separate room for recovery from general anesthesia. Despite the fact that Zion was not awake and had not regained the ability to breathe on his own, the Kool Smiles dentists chose to leave Zion alone in order to begin procedures on the next child-patient(s),” the lawsuit alleges.

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