Four and half million settlement in wisdom teeth extraction death

The family of a 31 year old woman who died later on the same day after having wisdom teeth removed in September 2011 was awarded a $4.5 million settlement. The woman had her wisdom teeth removed at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She presented for surgery after an infection in her lower left wisdom tooth.

The woman had known issues, including a narrow airway due to a congenital vascular malformation on the right side of her mouth and both she and her father told doctors she could not be intubated for that reason. Depsite being provided this information the hospital staff did not note it in her her pre-operative file and made an initial incision that caused significant bleeding. After this was done, doctors attempted to intubate the woman with the use of a laryngoscope blade which led to further bleeding.

Over the course of the day the woman gained 50 pounds due to the amount of blood and fluid pumped into her body through an IV. She later suffered cardiopulmonary arrest.

The lawsuit that was filed by family alleged that the anesthesia team was negligent in treating the woman during her wisdom tooth removal. The use of a laryngoscope blade was problematic as well as not keeping the woman in an upright seated position during the surgery. The lawsuit alleged the team could have performed a tracheostomy instead or had an ENT specialist available to access the woman’s airway if necessary. Furthermore, the lawsuit said the medical team “failed to protect” the woman’s airway during their work.

The CEO of the hospital system said settlements aren’t an admission of malpractice or wrongdoing. The lawsuit settlement was initially reached in January 2017 with distribution to the woman’s father and half siblings. However, the woman’s mother found out and contested and was eventually awarded 10% of the settlement amount. This case is Wajh Tadros v. County of Cook, 13 L 8577.

law court - Four and half million settlement in wisdom teeth extraction death
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Last year in 2017 a two million dollar settlement was reached when a 17 year old woman died after having wisdom teeth extracted see In 2011, a three million settlement was reached when a 20 year old man was left with partial blindess and neurological problems after wisdom teeth surgery see However, there have been reports of even larger amounts being awarded after wisdom teeth death than the $4.5 million in this case. For more information on these lawsuits see the dental malpractice page at


  1. Jordyn Reilland, “$4.5M deal for wisdom tooth death,” Chicago Daily law Bulletin, October 19, 2018.
  2. Gregory Pratt, “County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits,” Chicago Tribune, September 26, 2018.

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