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Archive for Wednesday, April 7, 2010

19-year-old who suffered brain damage during dental procedure files lawsuit

Austin Stone, who was injured in a medical gas accident during a 2009 dental procedure, is now a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind. The City of Lawrence has agreed to pay $50,000 as part of a settlement with Stone's family.

Austin Stone, who was injured in a medical gas accident during a 2009 dental procedure, is now a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind. The City of Lawrence has agreed to pay $50,000 as part of a settlement with Stone's family.

April 7, 2010

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Tongie teen files lawsuit

Austin Stone was seriously injured in an accident while getting his wisdom teeth removed. More than one year later, his family has filed a lawsuit seeking damages. Enlarge video

A 19-year-old Tonganoxie man who suffered brain damage during a dental procedure in Lawrence has filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

The suit was filed in Douglas County District Court on behalf of Austin Stone.

“We spent a lot of time monitoring Austin’s progress and gathering those medical records and trying to assess what his long-term situation’s going to be,” said Kirk Goza, an attorney for the Stone family. “The petition is really the start of the litigation.”

The lawsuit alleges that oxygen and nitrous oxide lines were crossed during design and construction of Dr. Kirk Vincent’s office at 4811 Bob Billings Parkway. It also alleges the city, during inspections of the office, should have caught the problem.

“Fair to say that we think this is a tragedy that was avoidable and that should not have occurred,” Goza said. “Who in all of this had certain responsibilities to take certain actions is what we are going to try to determine in some of these details.”

The suit seeks compensation from:

• Lawrence oral surgeon Kirk Vincent.

• Action Plumbing of Lawrence, which installed the medical gas lines.

• Patterson Dental Supply Inc., Topeka.

• Blanchard Design Group LLC, Lawrence, the architect on the project.

• Design Build Collaborative LLC, Lawrence, the general contractor on the project.

• Hoss & Brown Inc., Lawrence, the mechanical engineers on the project.

• The city of Lawrence.

Stone visited Vincent’s office to have four wisdom teeth removed on March 30, 2009.

The lawsuit alleges that:

During that visit, Vincent tried to sedate Stone with what he believed was a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. But Stone didn’t become sedated. The doctor administered Fentanyl and Diazepam, and then Propofol.

At that point, Stone’s heart rate decreased, and Vincent administered what he thought was 100 percent oxygen. In fact, it was pure nitrous oxide.

Stone eventually stopped breathing, and emergency medical workers were called. At Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Stone received a diagnosis of brain damage because of oxygen deprivation.

Today, Stone is walking with help from a cane. He’s legally blind and has a hard time hearing as well as moving around. Stone is in his first year of school at the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan. In an interview with the Journal-World last week, Stone says he is working to move forward from his devastating injury.

“What I would like to do now is take some speaking classes and try to become a motivational speaker,” Stone said.

The lawsuit seeks damages for medical expenses, upcoming medical care, as well as previous and future expenses for his guardians, Tara Passmore and Lance Stone.

While the lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000 in each of the 12 counts, no exact amount of damages is outlined in the suit.

Goza believes the deposition process will take about three months to complete.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial.

Comments

one2no 4 years, 8 months ago

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amrose42683 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm glad I chose not to be sedated when I had Dr. Vincent pull my wisdom teeth! Poor kid. Unfortunately, no amount of money can reverse the damages. I hope he wins this case, as he definitely should!

sbobandme 4 years, 8 months ago

What??????? Poor kid, better sue for MORE then that, he is looking at a lifetime of outside care.

maxcrabb 4 years, 8 months ago

You said it.

I do feel bad for the guy. People are put off by dentists enough as it is.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 8 months ago

I am surprised it took this long. This has to be a slam dunk case, but might need the trial just to see who was at fault. Thinking the trial will be about the parties above blaming others, and letting a jury figure out who needs to pay what.

I have gone to Dr. Vincent with no problems, but before he moved.

Richard Payton 4 years, 8 months ago

Will this young adult or his family be awarded punitive damages? Was the Cad drawing wrong which caused the construction company to install it wrong?

JRS 4 years, 8 months ago

SRJ- The family was probably waiting until the last minute to file. This is frequently what happens. I don't know the specifics, but I know for some legal reasons it is often beneficial to do that.

ICTjayhawks 4 years, 8 months ago

Dr. Vincent took out my wisdom teeth in January 2006 (before he moved his office) and it was a great experience (certainly no brain damage). Sounds like a very unfortunate situation for everyone involved though.

A question though, what was the extent of the brain damage? The article doesn't address it.

Dave Greenbaum 4 years, 8 months ago

$75,000 X 12 = $900,000. For a 19 year old to loose so much of their life and require decades of medical care, that seems way too little money, not withstanding punitive damages and quality of life.

I'm shocked this guy is still in practice.

He misdiagnosed my husband's suspected oral cancer. Fortunately it wasn't oral cancer, but it certainly wasn't what Dr. Vincent said it was. At the time I filed a complaint with the Kansas State Healing Arts Board, but nothing every came of it.

situveux1 4 years, 8 months ago

There is no drug called Daszapm. I assume LJW meant Diazepam. And propofol is spelled with an "f."

situveux1 4 years, 8 months ago

And while I initially thought this was just a tragic accident where a small oversight by everyone involved resulted in a horrible accident, if you read carefully that's not the case. The doctor should have known better than to administer fentanyl and Diazepam after seeing the NO wasn't working. To then add propofol on top of it is outrageous. That's a drug combination that even some anesthesiologists would be unwilling to use, especially after no response.

Christine Anderson 4 years, 8 months ago

Go to Dr. Gaus instead. No problems whatsoever.

kansasredlegs 4 years, 8 months ago

Remember this case next time INSURANCE COMPANIES's Lobbyist are securing $200,000 maximum cap limits on pain and suffering awards. Jury can award $20 million but judge will reduce pain and suffering to a mere $200k. For this young man, economic damages is where the money is and I hope he gets a truck load for the harm caused to him by those involved.

If caused due to improper installation associated with negligent or omitted inspections, I hope the individuals responsible simply close their eyes for 5 minutes and "see" what they have given this young man for the rest of his life.

hbjayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

What a sad tragedy. The appropriate insurance companies for each of the entities mentioned above should settle out of court, pay reasonable expenses so the family could move on. Hope their attorney gets them adequate compensation and cooperation.

Uhjh 4 years, 8 months ago

There is a lot of culpability: the City; the plumbers and the doctor. While the first out of the City’s mouth was we require the owner to get an independent inspection and we are not responsible. They do however have a responsibility to assure completion. The owner (doctor) has to be aware of his responsibilities and assure that the equipment the functioning correctly. The plumbers were not certified to this type of work. I hope there are some punitive damages as well as compensatory. I never read about any charges involving this incident.

KEITHMILES05 4 years, 8 months ago

Had the dentist never used the NO prior to this patient?

stlcards515 4 years, 8 months ago

I just had my wisdom teeth taken out by Dr. Vincent about a month ago, and guess what I'm still fully here. It wasn't Dr. Vincent's fault, it was the plumbers fault when they were putting in the lines. They had multiple plumbers working on it over multiple days and somewhere along the line the lines got crossed and hooked up wrong.

Dr. Vincent did exactly what he was supposed to do, give him pure oxygen to help him. It's not his fault at all that the lines were wrong. And I agree with the family in one count, that the city should have caught it when they inspected the building.

FarneyMac 4 years, 8 months ago

FYI - the "in excess of $75,000" part of the lawsuit is in there to automatically kick it to federal jurisdiction. They aren't suing for $75k on each count exactly.

kansasredlegs 4 years, 8 months ago

City and its inspectors won't be held liable since under the Kansas Tort Claims Act, the City cannot be held liable for failure to inspect or failure to catch any errors. The City has been brought into this suit for nuisance value (2-5% of total award) only. The contract city attorney who, with all due diligence, will be the one who makes out here. Risk Assessment Department needs to negotiate this one away quickly before the contract attorney legal fees exceed the payout to this deserving young man.

City of Lawrence - just do the right thing by this young man. You'll pay to subsidize the "T", pay tens of thousands to consultants to advise for projects that never get off the ground. So, just pay the young man your portion of "do the right thing" money, sign the check and the release absovling the City of wrongdoing and move on.

kujayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Dr. Vincent is a good man and a good oral surgeon. This was a terrible accident and I"m sure nobody feels worse about it than he does.

commuter 4 years, 8 months ago

Did Dr. Vincent hjave him sign a waiver letting him know of the potential risks of having the surgery??? I thought that is standard practice. So if I know what the potential risks of having surgery and something bad happens because I CHOOSE to have surgery, I sue everyone involved? I have empathy for the young man but I am trying to understand more.

asbury 4 years, 8 months ago

I have been to Dr. Vincent, and found him to be both competent and caring.....This is a tragedy, though, and I don not blame this young man and his family for seeking damages. They should be compensated. I don't know the rules of law, but I would say the entities around the construction of the building are the must culpable........

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

Action plumbing caused this for one reason and that was greed

yankeevet 4 years, 8 months ago

How come these lines; were not inspected before use? This is really a messed up deal here....

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

Action plumbing did not have a med gas installers license which they knew they had to have called another company that had one found out it was going to cost as much as he bid the whole job for so keven the owner of action plumbing told his workers to install it and the workers knew they had no licence.....way to go action plumbing all this damage because of greed..... give this kid 50,000,000

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

steve blanchard knew action plumbing didnt have a med gas license and knew keven at action plumbings masters license to own a company was in question and he did nothing to investagate this and he was chairman of the license review board for the city of lawrence and let action keep there license and did nothing to see if he got it illegal sounds like alot of people need to pay

rEaLiTyCk 4 years, 8 months ago

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Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

all plumbers that are smart know u need a third party inspection on med gas cost 900.00 and action knew this as well

think_about_it 4 years, 8 months ago

Yeah 458 let's run 'em out of business for sure. Just think of all the business that Vito's Plumbing would get if only Action Plumbing wasn't around anymore. I think we all see what your true mission is here.

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

just letting people know what a screwed up mess this is because of greed

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

I care about this because my 18 year old had this denist do the same thing on him a month earlyer in his old office if this would have happened to my son you can guess what I would have done to all involved

nut_case 4 years, 8 months ago

Terrible accident - I feel for all those involved. The surprising part to me is the medical lines aren't 'foolproof'. Even the fittings on a simple cutting torch are made so the oxygen and fuel lines can't be applied reversed, why isn't this so with medical equipment where a persons life is at risk?

mcks13 4 years, 8 months ago

The medical gas piping was not crossed

“The individual manifolds used to connect the oxygen and nitrous oxide were inadvertently transposed,” Dr. Vincent wrote in the April 8 letter. “I was given the go-ahead to begin practicing, and a serious injury occurred to a young man in my office. The problem was solely related to the incorrect hookup of the manifolds.”

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

Dr Vincent is a very caring and great denist he paid to have a job done and got screwed by all

bluerose 4 years, 8 months ago

hasn't this been on the front page of the web site for about three days now?

ho hum.

Liberty275 4 years, 8 months ago

A very sad case. All we can do is leave it up to the jury to go through the mountains of evidence we will never see and make the right decision.

amrose42683 4 years, 8 months ago

"commuter (anonymous) says…

Did Dr. Vincent hjave him sign a waiver letting him know of the potential risks of having the surgery??? I thought that is standard practice. So if I know what the potential risks of having surgery and something bad happens because i choose to have surgery, I sue everyone involved? I have empathy for the young man but I am trying to understand more."

NO and Oxygen lines being switched is not a "potential risk" ...

kubmg 4 years, 8 months ago

One might change their thought process about outcome of the case if one new that the janitorial company incorrectly replaced the tubes during their cleaning of the building. The Dr was unaware that had occurred. And, yes, a waiver was signed and is standard practice. While an unfortunate accident, Stone stands to lose this case.

Michael Capra 4 years, 8 months ago

chaney was called to repair the lines and have inspected no janitor was involved it was action plumbing period

nekansan 4 years, 8 months ago

I have no doubt the doctor feels bad and that this was not intentional. That does not mean that he is not at fault.. He has a duty to verify that his equipment is functioning properly and that he is administering the proper medications at appropriate levels. The fact that he administered 100% NO2 thinking it was oxygen means he did not verify the function of his medical gas system. What is more tragic here is the number of opportunities that were missed that could have prevented the injury to a patient. I believe that all the parties have a equal share in the liability. If any of them, doctor included, had exercised proper care the tragedy would have been prevented.

rEaLiTyCk 4 years, 8 months ago

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nut_case 4 years, 8 months ago

In the interest of clarity, NO2 is nitrogen dioxide - a poisonous red-ish brown gas, component of smog and intermediate step in producing nitric acid. N2O is nitrous oxide, 'noss', laughing gas, etc.

xdcr 4 years, 8 months ago

458 (Mike) go crawl back under your rock. You even had to name your company (Vito's) after another plumber. Couldn't use your own name .By the way, how did you get you license?

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

Worth repeating: • jkealing (Jonathan Kealing) says… bronze- I've warned you privately, now I'll warn you publicly. You do not have bearded_gnome's name correct. If you don't immediately cease to attempt to out an anonymous user, your account will be banned. In addition, I will immediately ban any account I suspect to be created by you without notice, warning or further cause. This is your final warning. Jonathan Kealing Online editor

––––– How has paulette2 lasted this long Jonathan?

jogger 4 years ago

I am still suffering multiple problems caused by a Lawrence dentist who frequently runs TV ads. Dr. Gaus also failed to address the problem after I was referred there. After ten years and thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of painful work, I know know that a dental error can be devastating. I am still in pain. There is no simple or good solution. I had work to repair some of the damage caused then to an adjacent tooth just a few weeks ago. More appointments wait. I will never recover completely.

There is no accountability for dental practitioners in Kansas. Making a complaint to the dental board will simply ensure that your xrays and models are destroyed and that no one local will help you, take your money for consults, yes, help you? No. Why aren't they suing the assistants as well? What about the institutions that trained the doctor and his assistants to monitor patients? All practitioners should be watching for physiological signs during any drug administration, especially nitrous.

Along the lines of waivers, there is a reasonable expectation that you will be closely monitored by a skilled professional during any procedure and that you will not be deprived of oxygen. This injury was pure negligence, which may be the standard of care in Lawrence.

What makes the story newsworthy is that they found a lawyer willing to go to court.

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