Family Reaches $3 million settlement from faulty medical gas during wisdom teeth removal

I have previously reported on Austin Stone, a teenager who was left with partial blindness and neurological problems after having his wisdom teeth removed. Today a partial settlement has been reached for $3 million with Action Plumbing; however, they denied being liable. Legal action is still pending against other defendants.

Austin visited Dr.  Steven Kirk Vincent in Lawrence, Kansas, U.S., in March 2009, to have all four of his wisdom teeth removed.  Dr. Vincent had just had a new dental surgery center opened and Austin was the first patient to visit on a Monday morning.

Dr. Vincent began administering to Austin what he believed to be nitrous oxide and oxygen. Austin did not become sedated and so Dr. Vincent administered diazepam, fentanyl, and later propofol. Austin’s heart rate began to decrease and Dr. Vincent administered what he believed to be 100% oxygen, but in fact it was pure nitrous oxide.  Due to lack of oxygen Austin suffered brain damage.

The oxygen and nitrous oxide lines had been crossed and the oral surgeon was not aware. Action Plumbing was blammed for improperly installing the medical gas lines which lead to Austin’s brain damage.

City code at the time required that an outside contractor hire an outside inspection company to test the medical gas system. Dr. Vincent never received a certificate showing the medical gas inspection had been completed from the contractor.  The city had been using a International Plumbing Code system. The city had previously changed over in 2007, from the Uniform Plumbing Code. The city was aware as it was brought up from the chairman of the mechanical board at the time, that the Internal Plumbing Code did not specifically address medical gases as the Uniform Plumbing Code did which was designed to prevent this type of tragedy from happening.

This is not the first time such a tragedy has occured in a dental setting. In fact a teenager died when her gas lines were improperly switched. This is reported on the dental deaths page on this website.

lawyer courtroom - Family Reaches $3 million settlement from faulty medical gas during wisdom teeth removal

This image is from and has a Creative Commons license.

Previous articles on Austin

Further Reading:

Leave a Comment