I-Team 8

Mom says dentist pulled 10-year-old's tooth without her consent

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Your child's doctors should be some of the people you trust most, but what happens if communication between you and those health care providers breaks down? One mom said that is what happened during her son's dentist appointment a few months ago.

Heather Houston contacted I-Team 8 because she said what happened at her son's dentist appointment was not right.

Like a typical 10-year-old, Kristian Jacks is not a fan of doctor and dentist appointments. One dentist visit several months ago still sticks in his mind.

“They said, 'are you ready to get your tooth pulled?' and I thought they actually told her (his mom) that,’” Kristian remembered.

His mom said the dentist pulled the trigger too soon on pulling the tooth.

“I had an appointment, he had an appointment for a consultation, and it went beyond the consultation,” said Houston.

Houston said when she was finished with her appointment, Kristian was not in the waiting room---he had already been taken back for his appointment.

“And then he was laying there already gassed up and his tooth had already been pulled, so they did not let me know at all what they were doing,” Houston said.

Houston was furious, and said she did not consent to the procedure.

“A consultation…that's what the appointment was initially set for, not a tooth pulling,” she said. “We were just going to talk about the tooth that needed to come out.”

But the whole time, Kristian thought the dentist already told his mom.

“You just don't pull a child from a waiting room without the consent of a parent,” said Houston. “He's ten years old. He himself couldn't even say, 'yes, I need this pulled.’”

I-Team 8 called Fountain Square Dental Clinic to get their side of the story. They could not talk about Kristian's specific case because of privacy laws. We asked them to comment on their standard procedures for consent, but they told us they had no comment.

Instead, we talked with a different dentist about consent: Dr. Rebecca De La Rosa with Avon Family Dentistry.

“Communication and education of the patient is the number one thing we do,” said Dr. De La Rosa.

Dr. De La Rosa served on the Indiana State Board of Dentistry and spent the last 28 years in family dentistry.

“We have consent multiple times verbally and in my office I do not have a written consent,” said Dr. De La Rosa. “Many doctors, if they are going to apply a local anesthesia or if they're going to have the patient in the hospital, they will have a written consent.”

Written consent for each procedure is not required in the state of Indiana, but many dentists, including Dr. De La Rosa, have a general consent form for all new patients to sign. Houston signed one such general consent form for her son when they joined Fountain Square Dental Clinic in July 2016. The form explains risks with different procedures, including tooth extractions. But the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry policies and guidelines say a general consent form is not enough.

“Even if not mandated by state law, written consent is advisable as it may decrease the liability from miscommunication. A patient's or parent's signing a consent form should not preclude a thorough discussion.

“Informed consent discussion, when possible, should occur on a day separate from the treatment and the practitioner should avoid downplaying the risks involved with

the proposed therapy.”

“We will always review what we are doing again and why we are doing it,” said Dr. De La Rosa. “For example, 'oh Misses Jones, you are here today because we are going to completing three fillings on the upper right. Is that ok with you?'”

Houston said nothing of the kind happened in their situation.

“I was just stunned,” she said. “I was just floored. I could not believe that they would go and get him and perform an oral surgery on him without the acknowledgement of mom. And I’m right there in the same building.”

Houston said she does not want money; she just wants to make sure this does not happen to another family. She is taking the issue to the Indiana Dental Association. They will do a peer review and see if they can reach a resolution between Houston and her dentist.


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